Pen Bay Healthcare is participating in a national effort to promote healthier lifestyles across the country. Pen Bay, as a member hospital in the MaineHealth system, has joined the Partnership for a Healthier America’s (PHA) “Hospital Healthy Food Initiative,” a program that strives to create a healthier environment by increasing the availability of nutritious options in hospital cafeterias.

First Lady Michelle Obama is honorary chair of the three-year PHA program. One hundred fifty five hospitals across the country are participating, making it the most expansive effort to impact hospital food and nutrition to date.

Pen Bay aims to make the healthy choice the easy choice by building upon many of the healthy practices we already have in place, such as better nutritional labeling to preparing meals in healthier ways.

“As centers for health in our communities, we have a responsibility to provide our patients, visitors and employees with a wide variety of affordable and healthy options, which is why we were eager to volunteer to join PHA’s ‘Hospital Healthy Food Initiative’ and lead the way,” said Deborah Deatrick, Senior Vice President of Community Health, MaineHealth.

During the next three years, MaineHealth's member hospitals will focus on creating a healthier environment with increased availability of nutritious options by adopting standards in the following categories:

– Boost access to fruits and vegetables

– Make healthy meals more affordable

– Encourage healthier beverage choices

– Focus on preparing healthier foods

– Label foods with nutrition information

– Market healthy foods in cafeterias & on menus

Pen Bay's director of Nutritional Services Jeffrey Space notes some of the changes made in the Pen Bay cafeteria and for patient menus:

– Reduced sugary drinks and diet sodas and increased offerings to 100 percent fruit juices and carbonated drinks such as flavored seltzer water

– Introduced whole grains as ingredients in cooking, such as quinoa and barley

– Introduced more fruits and vegetables in main dishes and side dishes

– Implemented the software program called Food Processor that prints nutritional labels placed on all foods that are served at Pen Bay