chefs at Salvation ArmyJack Robertson, Aramark at Salvation Army, Edinburgh

Congratulations to Aramark at The Salvation Army's Pleasance Lifehouse; the first Salvation Army hostel to achieve the healthyliving award. Situated in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town it provides access to accomodation for 40 males. The hostel provides breakfast and dinner.

Jack Robertson, Unit manager for Aramark explained that he heard about the healthyliving award through Aramark and admits that at first he was sceptical, particularly as some of the hostel residents have complex problems including alcohol or drug addiction. Jack wasn't convinced the award would be suitable for the hostel, however after some more thought and discussion his team realised how beneficial it could be and set about achieving it.

The hostel has two chefs with experience of preparing healthier food, with one involved with the HLA in a previous position. They set about reviewing their menu with the support of the HLA team, to ensure it met the criteria. This involved adapting traditional recipes to reduce the fat and salt, ensuring that one healthyliving compliant main course was available each day and adding salads to the daily menu. The most challenging aspect of the criteria was reducing the sugar and adapting the dessert menu. Jack explained some of this was done by 'stealth' such as reducing the amount of sugar in fruit crumbles while the uptake of fresh fruit relies on making it look attractive.

Dining area

The healthyliving award and the changes that have been made are communicated to the residents using the HLA materials such as table talkers. Jack explained it is just as important, if not more important, that he chat to the residents to find out what is working for the them.

Jack explained what difference the award has made so far:

"It's a little early yet to know if the award is making a difference, but residents seem happy to have been given the chance to be part of the award and the food has been well received.

"It is going well and I am pleased and surprised at the response. Regardles of people's problems they want to have acces to healthy nutritious food and perhaps this awards helps the residents feel we are taking care of them."