Improving Hospital Food Environments

Health Index Obesity Healthy Hospital FoodMaineHealth hospitals have committed to offering only health-promoting food options within five feet of cash register stations.

MaineHealth is committed to ensuring our hospitals are places of health and healing, and that extends to our food service operations. In January 2016, MaineHealth completed the Partnership for a Healthier America’s Hospital Healthier Food Initiative, a three-year commitment that asked our member and affiliate hospitals to increase the availability of healthy foods and beverages in their cafeterias and on patient menus.

Building on the success of this national initiative, MaineHealth supported our organizations in taking the next step toward healthier communities by addressing three new commitments. MaineHealth collaborates with 100 percent of food service departments across the system, working towards common goals:

  • Increase access to healthy foods and beverages by improving the cafeteria environment;
  • Increase procurement of healthy, local fruits and vegetables; and
  • Sustain three specific goals from the national initiative: 1) Offer only health-promoting food options within five feet of cash register stations; 2) Display only health-promoting food options in advertising in both patient and retail areas; and 3) Ensure all items available in the cafeteria are labeled with calories per serving.

With almost 9,000 meals served across our system each day, these changes have the potential to impact the health of not only patients, but employees and visitors as well.

Tracking Progress

All participating hospitals continue to implement or maintain commitments they made through the Hospital Healthier Food Initiative. 

  • 78 percent of the individual fruit and vegetable products purchased by MaineHealth network hospitals met the healthy criteria (no sodium or sweetener added to the products).
  • 52 percent of the individual fruit and vegetable products purchased were fresh produce.
  • 71,546 pounds of healthy, local fruits and vegetables were purchased from 23 vendors across the MaineHealth system.

Across the MaineHealth system, each hospital increased their Healthier by Design Hospital Café Scorecard score from baseline in Fall 2016 to follow up in Summer 2017.

  • Our hospitals scored an average of 33 points (out of 50) at the baseline assessment and increased to an average of 37 points by the follow-up assessment.
  • Six out of 11 hospitals reached Gold achievement level (scoring between 38-47 points).
  • Hospitals added popular fruit and vegetable grab n’ go options to their cafeterias, posted educational nutrition signage in their facilities and reorganized beverage coolers so the healthiest options were more plentiful and easier to reach.

We also continue to build partnerships with food vendors, major distributors, local growers and community organizations to increase access and availability of local, healthy products.

Healthy Hospital Food

Through the passion of our system's food service directors and their teams, MaineHealth is making great strides in improving access to healthy foods and beverages for patients, employees, families and communities.
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