Guiding Stars goes to school

by Keith Nunes
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SCARBOROUGH, MAINE — The Guiding Stars nutritional rating system developed by the Hannaford Bros Co. retail chain has been licensed by the Maine School Administrative District 75 to rate prepared meals, snacks, salad bar and grab-and-go items served within the district, which consists of six elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. It will be the first time the program has been used within a school food service setting.

"We’re looking to make nutritious choices simple, practical and fun and are thrilled to bring this program to middle and high school age students for the first time" said John Eldredge, director of brand and business development at Guiding Stars Licensing Co., a business established to expand the nutritional rating system’s reach into other markets. "Guiding Stars is a natural fit for school food service programs and we’re committed to being a part of the broader public health solution."

Moe St. Pierre, school food service director at M.S.A.D. 75, and Mary Booth, district health coordinator, have been working with Guiding Stars Licensing Co.’s program to help students make healthy food choices.

"This is all about health education," Ms. Booth said. "The cafeteria can provide a lot of opportunities to educate students. Our food service program already posts calorie information on nutrition boards at Mount Ararat middle and high schools, but calories are only part of the picture. Guiding Stars will give students more information to easily identify the foods with the greatest nutritional value."

The foundation of the Guiding Stars system is a formula that analyzes food products and assigns them a rating. The formula credits a food’s score for the presence of vitamins and minerals, fiber and whole grains. It debits the score for trans fatty acids, saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars and added sodium. The criteria follow the recommendations of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, and are intended to offer a complement to the Nutrition Facts Panel and the ingredient list.

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