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Guiding Stars is currently available in more than 1,500 grocery stores, as well as schools, but now the pioneering nutrition guidance program has teamed up with Pittsfield, Maine-based Sebasticook Valley Hospital (SVH) to introduce the system in a hospital cafeteria for the first time. Under the program, Guiding Stars will rate the cafeteria’s prepared meals, snacks and grab-and-go products according to their nutritional value, assigning each item a rating of zero to three stars that will enable people to determine a food’s nutritional quality at a glance.
“We’re looking to make nutritious choices even easier,” said John Eldredge, director of brand and business development at Scarborough, Maine-based Guiding Stars Licensing Co. “In an environment where achieving better health and well-being is so important, Guiding Stars is a natural fit for the hospital’s food service program. We’re committed to having healthy food choices be a part of the broader public health environment.”
“At SVH, our community’s health is a priority, and Guiding Stars is an opportunity to educate and empower our patients, guests and employees to make more nutritious food choices,” added SVH president and CEO Victoria Alexander-Lane, noting that the “easy-to-use” program was “already familiar to most food shoppers” in the area, following its adoption this past spring by local supermarket retailer Bud’s Shop ‘n Save, which has three central Maine locations: Dexter, Pittsfield and Newport. “It’s just one more milestone in offering the best possible service for our community,” she noted.
Guiding Stars employs a proprietary algorithm that is grounded in evidence-based science and the most current guidelines and recommendations of national and international health organizations such as the FDA and USDA. The system credits all edible foods based on the presence of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and whole grains, and debits for the presence of trans fats, saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars and added sodium.
Since its 2006 debut at Hannaford stores, Guiding Stars has expanded to more than 1,500 supermarkets including sister Delhaize America banners Food Lion, Bloom and Sweetbay, and will soon roll out at Kings Super Market. Guiding Stars can also be found at public schools and colleges in Maine, and appears on the Shopper mobile iPhone application.
Established in 1963, SVH is a Joint Commission-accredited 25-bed critical-access hospital.