Students Cook their Way to Health

Health conscious undergraduates at IT Sligo have been cooking up a novel way of alerting their friends to the importance of healthy eating.

Three of them devised a “Come Dine with Me” project, modelled on the television series, persuading nine occupants of three student houses to compete in a cook-off on successive nights.

The trio – Yvonne Sheridan, from Balla, Co. Mayo, Elaine Walsh, Knockmore, Co. Mayo and Cheryl Scally, Lanesborough, Co. Roscommon – came up with the idea as part of a final year project on their Public Health and Health Promotion degree course and also to coincide with the Institutes Health and Safety Office’s “Healthy Eating Week”.

Under the guiding eye of Dorothy Bird of Source Sligo Cookery School, who devised the menus, and with sponsorship from Dunnes Stores and the IT Sligo Students’ Union, the nine students learned at Source Sligo to cook affordable, student friendly and healthy dishes. Corporate Catering, the campus catering firm, put the main courses on the menu in the student canteen.

Keeping up the time-honoured tradition of never avoiding an opportunity for a house party, the students cooked, served and consumed each meal in style, with everyone conforming to a theme for the evening — a winter wonderland night, a pyjama party and a black tie night.

The three organisers say it was an invaluable experience in the behind the scenes organisational aspects of how to promote a health management event successfully. Meanwhile, the students on campus got a flavour of the reality that healthy eating can be delicious, varied and doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Yvonne Sheridan said: “My degree course at IT Sligo has been brilliant. I knew that I wanted to do something involving health and this course has confirmed it for me. There are so many options that it gives you. I want to go on to do radiography but maybe I’ll pursue a health promotion career after I complete my 12 week placement that I am on with Special Olympics Connacht, in Collooney.”

Lecturer Máire McCallion said: “Yvonne, Elaine and Cheryl were able to develop some of the key skills that are needed to bring different stakeholders on board together to promote health. That sort of experience will stand to them in whatever career they choose.”

“Their course is one that opens up opportunities in many areas such as community and youth work, health promotion  and sports development, and many of our graduates go on to do further studies in fields such as dietetics and human nutrition, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, biomedical science and other health related disciplines.

“The students were very fortunate to receive the support of Source Sligo Cookery School and Dorothy Bird, the Students’ Union, our campus Health and Safety Officer and also local business. It is very encouraging that these local businesses are so proactive in supporting practical student learning and promoting the health of our student population.”

The winning menu was “Red pepper and chilli hummus with healthy tortilla chips; Mexican bean stew; Fresh fruits in lime syrup”.

The winning team, all from Manorhamilton Co Leitrim, was Siobhan Feely and Clare Cullen who are studying Health Science and Physiology, and Lisa Keaney, who is studying Biomedical Science.

Public Health and Health Promotion Students Yvonne Sheridan, from Balla, Co. Mayo, and Elaine Walsh, Knockmore, Co. Mayo with competition winners Siobhan Feely and Clare Cullen and Lisa Keaney from Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, winners of the Come Dine With Me competition organised by students of Public Health and Health Promotion at IT Sligo.

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Siobhan Feely and Clare Cullen and Lisa Keaney from Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, winners of the Come Dine With Me competition organised by students of Public Health and Health Promotion at IT Sligo recently.

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IT Sligo Head of School of Science Dr Jeremy Bird, lecturer Máire McCallion (right) and Dorothy Bird (left) from Source Cookery School in Sligo pictured with the students who organised and took part in a recent Come Dine with Me competition aimed at encouraging students to eat more healthily.

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