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Nutrition guidance program “Guiding Stars” is rolling out at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. Virginia Mason is the first foodservice provider on the West Coast to implement the at-a-glance food rating system that helps people quickly and easily identify nutritious foods.
The program is part of the hospital’s comprehensive Health and Sustainable Food Practice Pledge, which was implemented to improve the overall health and well-being of patients, staff, visitors and the surrounding community.
“Virginia Mason has been widely recognized as a premiere health care center across many clinical disciplines, and adding Guiding Stars to its foodservice program is a clear indication of the priority the center places on holistic health,” said Sue Till, client services manager with Scarborough, Maine-based Guiding Stars Licensing Co.
Guiding Stars rates the nutritional value of every item in the Virginia Mason cafeteria, among them hot and cold prepared foods, salad bar and grab-and-go items, and beverages. Each item then receives a star denoting its value: one is good, two are better and three are best. The items are evaluated using a patented algorithm based on the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans and other national evidence-based nutrition policies.
“We all know that eating healthy is so important, but when you’re pressed for time or concerned about a loved one, it can be difficult to take time to figure out which items are the best choice for you,” noted Virginia Mason Food & Nutrition Director Jerry Roundy. “While we always make it a priority to provide healthy options, the Guiding Stars program adds an extra layer of user-friendliness, especially for those with specific dietary concerns.”
As well as providing nutritional guidance for cafeteria guests, the program can expand to include patient menus in hospital settings.
Since its 2006 debut at Hannaford Supermarkets, Guiding Stars has helped consumers make nutritious food choices. The program is currently in place at more than 1,700 supermarkets including Hannaford and its Delhaize America sister banners Food Lion and Sweetbay, as well as Homeland, Marsh and Canadian grocer Loblaws. Guiding Stars has also been adopted by public schools, colleges and hospitals, and appears on the Shopper mobile iPhone application.