Take-away invited to join healthy alternative initiative
Take-aways throughout Newark and Sherwood are being encouraged to sign up to a scheme promoting healthy eating.
The 'Hot' or Healthier Options Takeaway initiative is proving that what is good for the body is also good for business.
The scheme, run by Newark and Sherwood District Council, offers a 'Hot' merit award to any participating takeaway that meets the criteria for putting healthier options on the menu, giving customers the chance to choose a healthy, balanced meal.
To be eligible for the 'Hot' award, takeaways must have a food hygiene rating of three or higher (the top score is five), must fill in the self-assessment form and get a qualifying score of at least 60 per cent, and make three new pledges of healthier options on their menus.
Shannon Bromell, who runs the Soup Dwagon at Newark Market on Saturdays, said, "A lot of people say it's really nice to be able to get something healthy on the market rather than something unhealthy. Many don't want the bread with the soup, they just take the soup. We have had loads of good feedback from older people, children and people of all ages."
"We are gluten and wheat-free and sometimes we take dairy out so we cater for everybody."
Mark Gilmartin, co-owner of BJ Bakery on Mansfield Road, Blidworth, said "We signed up to the Hot scheme about two years ago because we wanted to develop a different clientele and extend our demographic. The traditional customer we had in here used to be the plasterers, builders and plumbers and it was all bacon, sausage and stodge."
"We wanted to extend the business to increase the number of people we got in and the range of people we got in also at some point to push the prices along so we went with the Healthy Options Takeaway idea. Primarily because it gave us a new emphasis and it gave us that option and access to extended advertising through the local council."
Richard Davison, owner of Davison Bakery on Appletongate, Newark, said "I signed up to the Hot scheme because we already offered a healthy option in takeaway and we just needed someone to help us shout about it and it seemed like a good idea."
Lisa Cobb, health and safety advisor at Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest, another member of the 'Hot' scheme, said "Working with the council on this scheme has been really important to us. By making small changes to the way foods are prepared and served, you can make the food served to guests that little bit healthier without compromising on good taste. We hope that by taking part in the scheme we are able to help change people's perception that takeaways don't have to be unhealthy. Families have some healthier options to choose from and can feel a little less guilty about treating themselves if they want to spoil themselves a little."
Council health improvement officer Mel Coton said the scheme benefitted businesses taking part as well as helping their customers make healthier choices.
She said: "Increasing customer choice makes for greater customer satisfaction, so it enhances the reputation of the business. Successful applicants also receive a certificate and promotional material, and recognition of their achievement on the Newark and Sherwood District Council website and via social media."
Councillor Neil Mison, the district council's representative on the Nottinghamshire Health and Wellbeing board, said: "Modern lifestyles mean we are eating more and more takeaway food which generally is high in fat and sugar leading to a multitude of health issues. The Hot scheme recognises those businesses that are taking the initiative in offering healthy alternatives and those who have become involved in the scheme recognise how this has helped grow their businesses."
Once a 'Hot' merit is awarded it lasts for two years - unless the ownership of the takeaway of the style of its cuisine changes, or unless a complaint arises that healthier options are not being offered. The council also has the right to remove the award of the food hygiene rating drops below three.
The scheme has been adopted by districts throughout Nottinghamshire as part of the strategy to combat obesity and a similar scheme has also been a success in Derbyshire.
Businesses wishing to apply can download a hot Self-Assessment Form and fill it in using the council's hot Guidance or contact Mel Coton on 01636 655 660 for more information or assistance.
Checkout our Healthy Options Takeaway videos.