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Toodle-oo, Timbits: NL’s health authority cuts sweets from some facilities under healthy food policy

A plate full of donuts.
NL Health Services has banned the sale of donuts and Timbits from the Tim Hortons location at the Health Sciences Center in St. Louis. John’s as part of a new healthy food policy. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

NL Health Services has banned the sale of donuts and other sweets in some of its facilities — including the Health Sciences Center in St. Louis. John’s — under the first phase of its new healthy food policy, and chips and chocolate bars are up next.

The authority’s health food policy was adopted in 2022, according to Natalie Moody, NL Health Services director of public health for the Eastern zone, with the first phase launching in June.

It cuts out candy, energy drinks and sports drinks like Gatorade from being sold at retailers in all facilities in what was formerly the Eastern Health region, and limits the amount of fried, processed or sugary foods that can be sold — including doughnuts and Timbits.

Moody said the policy is based on Canada’s Food Guide and is intended to help the authorities lead by example and provide a supportive environment with healthy eating choices for patients, employees and visitors.

“We want to be able to ensure that we’re in a position where we can help support and promote the health and well-being that we serve,” Moody said Tuesday.

“Really what we’ve looked at, I guess, is being able to provide an environment in which people can make healthy choices.”

Phase 2 of the policy, which is scheduled to take effect in June 2024, will prohibit the sale of soft drinks, vitamin water and chips from health-care facility retail spaces. Phase 3, set for 2025, will add chocolate bars, chocolate-covered items and deep-fried or partially fried foods to the list.

WATCH | Hear from St. John’s residents about Eastern Health’s new healthy food policy:

Glazed and confused: No more donuts at Health Sciences Centre

The CBC’s Talia Kliot hits the streets of St. John’s to ask people what they think of the decision to ban the sale of donuts at the Health Sciences Centre.

Some St. John’s residents who spoke to CBC News on Wednesday said they disagree with the policy.

“I’m not quite sure what the benefit of banning them is,” Patrick Eves said outside a Tim Hortons in downtown St. John’s. “I’m not convinced it’s a good idea.”

St. John’s resident Holly Charlton called the tire silly. There are too few options available in the hospital already, she said.

“A lot of the food options are very sparse, even when they’re open. It feels a little silly to ban doughnuts, ’cause Tim Hortons is one of the only places you can actually get food in there,” Charlton said. “I think food selection in general needs to be better.”

A woman sits at a computer desk wearing a headset.
Natalie Moody, NL Health Services’ director of public health for the Eastern zone, says the policy is based on Canada’s Food Guide. (CBC)

Moody said the health authority is working with retailers to ensure people will have options in the hospital and to make sure healthier choices remain affordable in the absence of sugary or processed foods.

“The choice is still there,” she said.

“Our goal is to be able to provide things within a price point that people can manage to purchase. And looking at being able to provide that supportive environment, a key point of that is being able to ensure that people can afford to choose from what we have available to them.”

Moody said policies related to bringing in food aren’t changing, so visitors will still be allowed to bring in sugary foods.

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