Improving Hospital Food Environments

Health Index Obesity Healthy Hospital Food
MaineHealth 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. 

  • In 2017-2018, MaineHealth hospitals purchased 101,400 pounds of healthy (no sodium or sweetener added), locally-grown fruits and vegetables, an increase of 41% over the previous year.  
  • Many hospitals participate in the Nourished by New England program, a regional promotional campaign from Health Care by Harm designed to promote the local food offered in the cafeteria and educate consumers on the sourcing of their food.
  • Across the MaineHealth system, 92% of hospitals either maintained or increased their Healthier by Design Hospital Cafe Scorecard score from the previous year.  One hospital increased their score by 20 points from baseline.  
  • Forty-four percent (44%) of MaineHealth hospitals no longer sell sugar sweetened beverages.  
  • MaineHealth and local food service departments 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.