Nutritional guidance

Bates, Guiding Stars team up to provide nutritional guidance

Mar. 31, 2009

Assistant chef Thoune Thongsavanh works at the vegetarian-vegan station in Commons.

Known for its progressive food-service practices, Bates College has announced a pioneering partnership with the highly regarded nutrition navigation system Guiding Stars.

First implemented in 2006 and now used in some 1,400 grocery stores, the science-based Guiding Stars system rates foods with zero to three stars highlighting items according to good, better or best nutritional value, respectively.

The Bates partnership is Guiding Stars Licensing Company’s first with a college. In January, the company announced that it would launch the first-everschool nutrition rating system in Maine School Administrative District 75, which includes the towns of Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Harpswell and Topsham.

Guiding Stars is a simple, at-a-glance tool that allows students and other Bates diners to easily choose foods that offer the most nutrition for the calories.

“At Bates, we believe strongly in nourishing mind and body by offering food that’s fresh, delicious and healthful,” said Christine Schwartz, director of Dining Services. “Guiding Stars lets us to do that much more effectively — it gives our customers an easy guide to enhance their menu choices.”

“We’re thrilled to have this partnership with Guiding Stars.”

With the Bates-Guiding Stars partnership beginning this month, the intention is to start labeling pre-packaged foods during the summer and expand the program to all foods offered at Bates, including the college’s proprietary dining hall recipes, by the beginning of school in September 2009.

“We salute Bates’ longstanding commitment to high-quality, innovative food service and nutrition education,” said John Eldredge, director of brand and business development at the Scarborough-based Guiding Stars Licensing Company. “We’re excited to add Guiding Stars as a learning tool on campus.”

Guiding Stars’ evidence-based, proprietary algorithm for assessing nutritional value credits a given food product for the presence of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and whole grains. It debits the food item for the presence of trans fats, saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars and added sodium. The system employs the most current recommendations from such established health-standards agencies as the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture.

Bates College is nationally recognized for such practices as sustainable food sourcing and a robust program of local food purchasing, as well as an aggressive and effective approach to minimizing waste from its operations. The college has dedicated the 2008-09 academic year to an initiative called“Nourishing Body and Mind: Bates Contemplates Food.”

The initiative is designed to raise consciousness about the consequences of our food choices and, in particular, about Bates’ own efforts to feed the campus in a healthy, sustainable way. “Bates Contemplates Food” has been inspired in part by a $2.5 million grant that supports the College’s use of foods that are organic, natural and local.

The Guiding Stars system was the first of its kind when it was implemented in September 2006 in response to consumer demand for a simple, easy-to-understand tool for making good nutritional choices while shopping. The system is now on shelf tags and signage in grocery stores up and down the East Coast including 1,177 Food Lion Stores in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic, 167 Hannaford locations in the Northeast and 108 Sweetbay stores in central and western Florida.