The food and nutrition services team at MaineGeneral Health works across the hospital system and with many community partners to continuously educate patients, staff and the public. Its educational outreach is built on three principles: nutrition and healthy cooking, the benefits of local sourcing and adopting sustainable practices.
To bring education to the greater community, dietitians partner with several nonprofits, including Health Care Without Harm, the Good Shepherd Food Bank and the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, a network cofounded by the CIA and Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health that promotes teaching kitchens as catalysts of personal and public health.
MaineGeneral has forged other partnerships with local producers and farmers, and the meals and to-go items in the cafeteria and retail venues are largely crafted from produce, dairy, meat and fish from Maine suppliers. Items and menus are often labeled with sourcing info to reinforce the importance of buying local. To further support the Maine food system, the hospital is a major sponsor of a couple farmer’s markets in the Kennebec Valley.
On the sustainability front, MaineGeneral is a leader in reducing waste. Single-bin recycling has recently been put in place at its Alfond Center for Health in Augusta—a program that has kept an estimated 200 pounds per day of recyclable items out of the trash stream. Working with the Agri-Center in Exeter, Maine, the hospital system recycles food waste into electricity.