STUDENTS from the University of Limerick and members of local migrant communities recently came together in a cross-cultural project aimed at improving knowledge about healthy eating and the diverse food cultures present in Limerick.
People from four different parts of the globe – Nigeria, Bangladesh, Poland and Palestine, participated in the project with MSc students in Human Nutrition and Dietetics at UL. Together they explored different cultures and diets, how food is prepared and served, and how food is preserved here in Ireland and in the country of origin.
As part of the project, UL students explored how to make the Healthy Food Made Easy (HFME) program more inclusive of diverse cultures and diets. The HFME program is the HSE nutrition and cooking program offered by the Limerick Food Partnership. It aims to help people adopt healthier diets, plan meals on a budget, and prepare meals that are easy to cook.
The course content is based on the Healthy Eating Guidelines issued by the Department of Health.
The project is the result of a collaboration between Limerick Food Partnership, UL’s School of Allied Health and the Limerick City and Country Integration Group. The project was coordinated by the Limerick Food Partnership, an initiative that aims to raise awareness, improve access and increase the supply of healthy food in the city and county of Limerick.
Catherine Lasile, from Nigeria, who participated in the project said: “We really enjoyed the process, and we were delighted to share our knowledge and our recipes with the students”, while Anwar Khalaf from Palestine said that ‘she “hopes that our recipes will be widely shared not only among our own communities, but also in the Irish community at large”.
Professor Niamh Hourigan, Co-Chair of the Limerick Food Partnership, said: “We are delighted to be a part of this exciting initiative and look forward to working with colleagues from UL and migrant communities in Limerick to celebrate dietary diversity in city and county. As part of our own contribution to this process, our coordinator Olivia O’Brien has exciting plans for 2021/2022, which will focus on delivering healthy and easy food to a wide range of groups, including communities of migrants. She will also engage with community and voluntary organizations throughout the city and county to carry out projects that address the issues of food poverty and the skills gap in food preparation ”.
Dr Anne Griffin, MSc Human Nutrition & Dietetics course director, said: “Dietetics students have enjoyed working in partnership with migrant leaders to gain a better understanding and understanding to develop inclusive resources to support health and well-being. This work was carried out through a community-led development approach by working with migrant representatives to integrate food culture and traditions into the Irish guidelines for healthy eating for better health for all.