SDHB's new food, drink policy offers healthier options

Viv Stewart , who is manager of the Dispensary Cafe at Dunedin Public Hospital holds a salad from the cafe's healthy food range. Photo: Linda Robertson
Viv Stewart , who is manager of the Dispensary Cafe at Dunedin Public Hospital holds a salad from the cafe's healthy food range. Photo: Linda Robertson
Salads are in and sponge cakes are out as the Southern District Health Board rolls out its new healthy food and drinks policy in cafes and retail outlets on its premises.

Having already barred sugar-sweetened drinks two years ago, under the new policy most confectionery and some types of crisps join fizz on the outer, and healthier options are now on the menu.

Artificially sweetened drinks are also being shunned, as they can affect tooth enamel and increase weight.

Hot drinks are not covered by the policy.

It is also not quite the end for cakes and slices . . . but there will be fewer of them, the ingredients may be different, and helpings will be smaller.

''As the leading healthcare provider in the district, it's our responsibility to be an example to the communities we serve and to provide healthier food and beverage options at all SDHB hospitals and facilities across Otago and Southland,'' chief executive Chris Fleming said.

''This means a range of new, healthier choices will be available from our cafes, canteens and even vending machines in the coming months.

''You'll see more waters, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and fewer or smaller portion sizes of sugary cakes and slices.''

Nick Scott, owner of Dunedin Hospital's Dispensary Cafe, said the enforced change of menu had posed challenges, but most of the cafe's range had remained exactly the same.

Some ingredients and portion sizes had had to change, but healthy food had been a core goal from the start.

''We have had to come up with some new items and evolved some of our existing items ... but it hasn't been an overly dramatic change.''

Mr Fleming said SDHB staff and hospital visitors would still be able to bring in their own food and drinks.

Bake sales - a common fundraiser - were still allowed, but anything sold would need to be a healthy portion size.

The changes are in line with the Ministry of Health's national healthy food and drink policy, which all DHBs are obliged to comply with.

That states: ''Food should be mostly prepared with or contain minimal saturated fat, salt (sodium) and added sugar, and should be mostly whole or less processed.

''This means: some foods containing moderate amounts of saturated fat, salt and/or added sugar may be available in small portions (e.g. some baked or frozen goods); no deep-fried foods; no or limited confectionery.''

Each DHB must monitor and evaluate the policy.

Patient meals have their own separate policy and are designed with a patient's health and nutritional needs in mind.

Tim Mackay, an SDHB dental surgeon, said the new policy was the right move for staff, patients and visitors and sent the right message to the community.


I don't think this was requested or wanted by staff for the staff cafe......goodbye fish and chip Friday for the sake of what?