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    ‘Guiding Stars’ Comes to Maine Hospital’s Cafeterias

    Rollout provides reinforcement of program for local residents

    Mercy Health System of Maine’s cafeterias will feature the “Guiding Stars” food nutrition rating system. The program will enable hospital staff and visitors at both the Mercy State Street Cafeteria and the Fore River Café to make better nutritional choices when choosing snacks and meals.

    Employing a patented formula based on the USDA Dietary Guidelines, Guiding Stars rates the nutritional value of every item in the cafeterias, including hot and cold prepared foods, salad bar items, convenience foods and beverages. Each item is labeled according to its nutritional value: one star is good, two is better and three is best.

    “The Guiding Stars program matches up well with our organizational commitment to wellness,” noted Eileen Skinner, CEO of Portland, Maine-based Mercy. “Helping our staff and our visitors/patients make informed nutritional choices is an important component of health living.”

    “The Guiding Stars program began at Hannaford, so seeing it at both the grocery store and at a prominent health care center here provides excellent reinforcement on the importance of wellness and eating healthy for the entire Portland community,” added Sue Till, client services manager with Guiding Stars, also based in Portland.

    “It can be difficult to make the right choices when you’re worried about a loved one or you only have a few minutes to get your meal,” observed Mary McHugh, Mercy’s manager of clinical nutrition. “The program uses sound scientific nutritional data which is especially important for people with special dietary concerns.”

    Debuting in 2006 at Hannaford, Guiding Stars is currently offered at more than 1,700 supermarkets, among them Food Lion, Sweetbay Supermarket, Homeland and Marsh, as well as Loblaws in the Canadian province of Ontario. The program has also expanded into public schools, colleges and hospitals, and appears on the Shopper mobile iPhone application.

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