New heart healthy food options at conference center

Columbia, SC (November 19, 2010) – Groups looking for conference facilities in Columbia that promote good nutrition finally have an option. Beginning in October, the William L. Yates Conference Center at the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) offers a heart healthy menu from Dimmler's Catering and Special Events. The new menu was designed using dietary guidelines recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA).

On Friday, to launch the new menu, SCHA and the AHA will jointly host a celebrity food tasting to sample items from the new menu. The celebrity judges will include: The Honorable DeAndrea G. Benjamin, wife of Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin; Anton Gunn, Regional Director, US Health and Human Services; and Jonathan Rush, radio disc jockey from WCOS and Clear Channel Radio. The celebrity judges will try food items from the new menu and select their favorite healthy dish.

The new menu and enhanced focus on personal health improvement comes as SCHA is strengthening its focus on prevention, wellness, and reducing the cost of health care. Tobacco use, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity are three huge risk factors leading to early and preventable disease and contribute significantly to the cost of providing health services. These risk factors among employees result in higher absenteeism, lost productivity, and increased costs for employers. The simple truth is that unhealthy employees are less productive than their healthier peers. Hospitals, however, can be natural leaders in prevention. As community-oriented, mission-driven organizations, hospitals understand the role that health plays in the community and to the individual. As employers, they understand the high cost of preventable illness and disease among the almost 80,000 South Carolinians who work in hospitals.

To spread this prevention message statewide, The Duke Endowment has recently awarded a multi-year grant to SCHA. The new initiative, called Working Well, will be overseen through a partnership with NC Prevention Partners (NCPP). It will focus on chronic disease prevention and support hospitals in their efforts to develop and implement wellness policies and work environments that promote better health. The Working Well Campaign will collaborate with similar initiatives, including those coordinated by Eat Smart, Move More SC and the American Heart Association, to capitalize on the resources available through these partners.

Because work is where employees spend most of their time, the food available at work frequently determines what we eat throughout the day. By providing healthier food choices for SCHA staff and visitors, SCHA is showing its commitment to improved nutrition and to changing patterns of behavior that can lead to preventable diseases and costly medical treatment. For all future SCHA functions in the conference center, staff will select menu options based on the following American Heart Association recommendations:

  • Fruits and vegetables: At least 4.5 cups a day
  • Fish (preferably oily fish): At least two 3.5 ounce servings a week
  • Fiber-rich whole grains: At least three 1-ounce equivalent servings a day
  • Sodium: Less than 1,500 mg a day
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages: No more than 450 calories (36 ounces) a week
  • Nuts, legumes and seeds: At least 4 servings a week
  • Processed meats: No more than 2 servings a week
  • Saturated fat: Less than 7% of total energy intake

Other groups using the conference facilities will be encouraged to order from the heart-healthy menu but will have other options as well.

11-19-2010 12:00 (EST)