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Pioneering storewide nutrition navigation program "Guiding Stars" has joined forces with Storm Lake, Iowa-based Buena Vista Regional Medical Center to help patients, visitors and employees select more nutritious food choices. Guiding Stars will evaluate the nutritional content of the prepared meals, snacks and grab-and-go items offered in the medical center’s cafeterias, in addition to the food served to patients. Each item will receive a rating of zero to three stars reflecting its nutritional quality, with zero stars meaning the item doesn’t meet the system’s nutrition criteria, and three stars meaning that the item contains the best nutritional value.
“Buena Vista Regional Medical Center is a top-rated hospital that is committed to providing the information their patients, visitors and employees need to lead a healthy lifestyle,” noted John Eldredge, director of brand and business development at Scarborough, Maine-based Guiding Stars Licensing Co. “[Our] nutrition guidance program … will serve as an educational tool to help people identify nutritious food choices and to create a positive impact on community health.”
“We always look for opportunities to offer our visitors and employees tools that will promote health and wellness,” explained Katie Schwint, executive director of communications at Buena Vista Regional Medical Center. “[The partnership] with Guiding Stars … is another opportunity to educate our community and make nutritious eating even easier.”
Guiding Stars employs an algorithm grounded in evidence-based science, along with the latest guidelines and recommendations of national and international health organizations such as the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The system credits all foods based on the presence of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and whole grains, and subtracts for the presence of trans fat, saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars and added sodium.
The innovative Guiding Stars program originally rolled out in 2006 at Hannaford Supermarkets stores. Now the system is available in more than 1,600 supermarkets, public schools, colleges and the ReachEverywhere Shopper iPhone application, as well as through the Guiding Stars online tool, Food Finder.