Bringing Fresh & Nutritious Foods to Our Hospitals
This year, MaineHealth was named among five finalists for the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) Partner of the Year Award, an accolade that recognizes organizations that are working to make healthier choices more affordable and accessible.
MaineHealth first signed on to the PHA’s Hospital Healthier Food Initiative in 2012, making a commitment to increase access to healthier foods and beverages in our hospitals.
Since then, our member and affiliate hospitals have engaged in a variety of healthy efforts, such as increasing the number of healthy offerings on both patient and cafeteria menus, removing unhealthy foods and beverages from within five feet of cash register stations, and procuring healthier beverages.
Many hospitals have also labeled all foods in the cafeteria with calories and other nutritional information, and offered wellness meals with specific food and nutrient profiles.
“These changes help employees, patients, visitors and community members make the healthy choice the easy choice while dining at MaineHealth hospitals,” said Deborah Deatrick, senior vice president for community health at MaineHealth.
Making Healthy Foods More Accessible
In keeping with our commitment to building healthier communities, our hospital food service teams across the system have been working to serve more fruits and vegetables grown in New England.
During the bountiful summer months, you’ll find locally grown cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, raspberries and more on the menu at Waldo County General Hospital. The Belfast hospital works with four different farms to offer a variety of local fruits and vegetables throughout the year. In fact, the hospital estimates that local farmers and other food producers provide between 15 and 20 percent of the food that is served at the hospital.
“When the hospital buys local food, we support our communities by keeping dollars here in our community and supporting Maine traditions of agriculture and open farmland,” said Sheila Costello, director of nutrition services.
Locally Grown Flavors From Campus Gardens
On the LincolnHealth–Miles Campus in Damariscotta, fresh flavors are only a few steps away from the kitchen. Several raised-bed gardens are maintained and harvested weekly by employees, volunteers and residents of the senior living properties located on campus.
Some of these gardens are dedicated to growing produce for patients who may not always have access to fresh vegetables. Once the gardens are harvested, the vegetables are placed in a common area and patients are invited to take them home.
The remaining gardens on campus are used to grow vegetables served at the three dining facilities, allowing patients, employees and community members to enjoy healthy, delicious meals whenever they dine.