Exploring and Celebrating Food Diversity in Limerick

  • Limerick Food Partnership Celebration of Learning: Celebrating Food Diversity. (Pic: Diarmuid Greene)
Front: Mary Sexton, Catherine Lasile, and Niamh Holmes. Back: Rachel McCarthy, Saoirse McGeever, Dawid Glazer, and Jane Fitzgerald. (Photo: Diarmuid Greene)

Students from the University of Limerick and members of migrant communities in Limerick recently came together as part of an intercultural project to improve knowledge of healthy eating and diverse food cultures present in Limerick.  People from four different parts of the globe; Nigeria, Bangladesh, Poland, and Palestine, took part in the project with MSc students in Human Nutrition & Dietetics in UL.

Together, they explored different food cultures and diets, how food is prepared and served, and how diet is preserved here in Ireland and in the country of origin.

As part of the project, the UL students explored how to make the Healthy Food Made Easy (HFME) programme more inclusive of diverse food culture and diets. The HFME Programme is the HSE’s nutrition and cookery programme delivered by Limerick Food Partnership. It aims to help people to adopt a healthier diet, plan meals on a budget and make easy-to-cook meals. 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, the School of Allied Health in UL, and the Limerick City and County Integration Group. The project was coordinated by Limerick Food Partnership, which is an initiative that aims to raise awareness, improve access, and increase the supply of healthy food options in Limerick city and county.

Catherine Lasile, originally from Nigeria, who took part in the project said “We really enjoyed the process, and we were delighted to share our knowledge and recipes with the students”, while Anwar Khalaf from Palestine said that she “hoped our recipes will be shared widely not only amongst our own communities but in the wider Irish community also”.

Prof. Niamh Hourigan, Co-Chair of Limerick Food Partnership said “We are delighted to be part of this exciting initiative and look forward to working with colleagues in UL and migrant communities in Limerick to celebrate food diversity in the city and county. As part of our own contribution to that process, our co-ordinator Olivia O'Brien, has exciting plans for 2021/ 2022 which will focus on delivery of Healthy Food Made Easy to a diverse range of groups including migrant communities. She will also engage with community and voluntary organisations throughout city and county to deliver on projects that address the issues of food poverty and food preparation skills deficit."

Dr Anne Griffin, Course Director MSc Human Nutrition & Dietetics said Dietetic students enjoyed working in partnership with migrant leaders to gain a better understanding and insight to develop inclusive resources to support health and wellbeing. This work was achieved through a community led development approach working with migrant representatives to integrate food culture and traditions with the Irish Healthy Eating Guidelines supporting better health for all.“

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