Mandy and the team, including Gemma Ewen, Health, Care & Retirement Living Dietitian, and Darren Neal, Executive Development Chef, created the concept for Caterplus - an Elior business which specialises in the care and retirement living sector. A four-week grazing box menu, consisting of savoury and sweet items, has been introduced for residents in care homes. The menu provides a balance of healthier, higher fibre options, which help treat and prevent digestive issues, as well as higher energy and protein options which help prevent weight loss and malnutrition.

The chef-tested, nutritionally analysed, dietitian approved dishes are suitable for residents with a range of dietary requirements including those requiring texture modified meals. The grazing boxes are dementia friendly and were developed to be served either in place of, or in addition to, traditional plated meals. They contain small portions of nourishing finger foods, which can be adapted to required texture modified levels and can help maintain a person’s independence and encourage more regular eating.

Mandy Davies, Head of Nutrition & Dietetics for Elior UK, said: “Malnutrition is a significant problem in the UK, especially affecting the elderly, and our grazing boxes help to address this issue and the challenges of catering for residents with dementia.  Since the introduction of the grazing boxes, we have seen a vast improvement in resident weight gain and are so pleased to have created a solution that supports residents with dementia and enables us to provide enhanced care for all residents.”

Laura Tighe, Managing Director of Caterplus, said: ‘We are delighted to have won this award and are so proud of Darren and Mandy and their vision to develop a service that really makes a difference to care home residents. The impact has been so positive both on the physical and mental wellbeing of residents.”

The grazing boxes can be delivered to residents three times a day or tailored to individual needs and served any time day or night. They can be presented either as a sharing platter or as an individual box. The latter enables care home staff to monitor what individual residents have eaten and they can be specifically tailored to a resident’s individual requirement such as food allergy, additional fortification or increased fibre and the sharing platter helps to create a sense of community amongst residents.

The Public Sector Catering Awards were held at the Hilton Metropole in London on 7th April 2022.