RESTAURANT staff at Westmorland General Hospital have been presented with an award recognising their commitment to providing wholesome, healthy food choices on the menu.

The catering team at the Kendal hospital's Westmorland Bite Restaurant received a Healthier Menus Award for their work to promote healthy menu options for patients, staff and visitors.

The awards are run by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) in collaboration with Cumbria County Council and other local authorities as part of a scheme to encourage people to make healthier and more informed food choices.

It is intended to encourage people to choose more fruit and vegetables and less saturated fats, sugars and salts when they are eating in restaurants, pubs, hotels and work canteens.

SLDC started the awards five years ago in support of its health and wellbeing objectives and more recently it has also included a Healthier Menus Award for secondary schools in the district.

The Westmorland Bite Restaurant has been recognised for changes that have been made to its menu to include increased availability of fruit and vegetables, wholegrain cereals and oily fish.

The catering team’s commitment to using fresh and locally sourced produce even includes using herbs grown in a garden on-site at WGH and maintained by volunteers from the Chestnut Events charity.

The new menus have been developed with input from staff and patients and have been piloted at Westmorland General Hospital with plans for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) to roll out the menus to its other hospitals in Lancaster and Barrow.

The hospital is also giving out ‘To Go’ bags to patients being discharged so they have some healthy food to take home with them and a next stage is to review the contents of the hospitals’ vending machines to include healthier options.

Tracy Litt, catering manager at WGH said: “The new menus have been very well received by patients, staff and visitors and for the team to receive this Healthier Menus award is a fantastic achievement for them all and shows how much dedication the team have to making the catering services a success.’’

David Passant, Divisional Facilities Manager for UHMBT added: “We have listened to our staff, customers and service users and taken on board what they want to see served in our restaurants across our hospitals.

“We have introduced healthier options, extended our opening hours and our menus are reviewed on a weekly basis."