Latrobe Regional Hospital – Working to make healthy eating the norm for staff, visitors and the Latrobe community

Latrobe Regional Hospital – Working to make healthy eating the norm for staff, visitors and the Latrobe community

Leaders in prevention - Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH) are the largest hospital and workplace in Gippsland to reach the Healthy Eating benchmark as part of the Healthy Workplaces Achievement Program.

Their ongoing commitment to healthy eating has gone from strength to strength. In 2017, LRH implemented the Victorian Government’s Healthy Choices guidelines in their cafes, catering and vending machines and more recently built upon this work by removing all sugary drinks as part of the Healthy choices: policy directive for Victorian public services .

“Hospital staff work incredibly hard every day to keep Gippsland residents healthy and well. We needed to work towards the same goal by having healthy foods and drinks on offer.” Laura Duff, Public Health Nutritionist, LCHS

LRH engaged support from Healthy Eating Advisory Service (HEAS) and Latrobe Community Health Service to undertake a healthy makeover by assessing the food on offer in its café and vending machines. The café removed all deep-fried foods, confectionary, cakes, and reduced the amount of sugary drinks available. They added delicious new items such as fruit salad, dip snack packs, and fresh fruit.

The Healthy Choices guidelines classifies foods and drinks using the traffic light system; GREEN ‘best choice’, AMBER ‘choose carefully’, and RED ‘limit’.

Menu assessments showed massive improvement with 66% GREEN, 28% AMBER, and only 6% RED food and drinks offered (up 42% GREEN, down 27% RED). Staff and the community welcomed the changes. A staff member stated that after 17 years of working at the hospital she has, for the first time, made a purchase at the café and was glad to see more healthy options available and promoted. A survey found 72% of customers like the taste and variety of food and drinks.

More recently, LRH have received HEAS support to make further improvements to meet the drinks targets of the Healthy choices policy directive and become a sugary drink free service.

LRH are leaders in prevention. As Latrobe’s largest employer and serving a population of 200,000, the healthy changes have a huge impact. Following their lead, there are now 25 organisations, retail outlets and caterers within Latrobe who are working to implement healthy food and drink changes.

LRH encourages other organisations to offer healthier foods and drinks just like they have done. By working towards the Healthy Choices guidelines, and more recently the Healthy choices policy directive, they have made Latrobe (and Victoria) a healthier place.

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