12 November 2015

It’s not about taking away people’s freedom of choice, but rather about encouraging them to make more healthy choices when purchasing foods and drinks,” says Sarah Carvell, Catering Manager at YMCA Wimbledon.

The café on the 1st floor of YMCA Wimbledon is the first business in Merton to be awarded the new and updated Healthier Catering Commitment for London.

A commitment to healthier food

This is a voluntary scheme for restaurants, takeaways, sandwich bars and other caterers in London who would like to demonstrate a commitment to offering healthier options. Businesses that fulfil the criteria are given a certificate and window sticker to promote their achievements.

YMCA Wimbledon has previously received their Healthier Catering Commitment award in 2012. Following a general overhaul of the scheme and the addition of new criteria, Merton Council is now in the process of renewing the awards for all businesses in the borough.

First to fulfil all 24 criteria

YMCA Wimbledon is not only the first business to have been through the process of renewing their commitment to the scheme, it is also the first business in Merton to fulfil all of the 24 essential and desired (optional) criteria.

Criteria include using sunflower and rapeseed oil instead of oils with a high saturated fat content when cooking, using less salt when cooking, make displays of water and healthier drinks options more visible and ensuring vegetables or salad are available as an accompaniment to all dishes.

Most of this we did already, but some of the optional recommendations we took on board following the inspection from the council,” Sarah explains.

“For instance, we are displaying more of the healthier options like fresh salads by the counter, and we have removed the salt shakers from the tables. Most of the changes however, are not noticeable to the customer and they certainly don’t affect how the food tastes. All the feedback we’ve had has been positive, especially when people hear why we are doing it”.

Fits with our ethos

Next year, Sarah is also planning to ensure calorie information is listed on all menus in the café and she is also looking at signing up for a similar scheme called the Merton Food Charter.

Being a part of the Healthier Catering Commitment for London is important to YMCA St Paul’s Group”, Sarah explains.

First of all is because it fits in with the YMCA ethos to help people live healthy lives, Secondly, it is about giving people choices. By committing to this scheme we are staying on top of the current trends and development in the catering business”.