WCGH encourages healthier cafeteria choices

Jul 16, 2017
Hester Kohl, a certified health and wellness coach at Waldo County General Hospital, and Sarah O’Blenes, business and employee wellness manager at Waldo County General Hospital, offer healthy dessert samples during a taste test earlier this year.

Belfast — Waldo County General Hospital has taken steps to encourage healthier choices in its cafeteria. Funded by the CDC’s Partnerships to Improve Community Health, WCGH and partners throughout northern Maine are working to increase access to healthy food and beverage options.

“We decided to focus on the hospital cafeteria, which serves around 200 meals each day,” said Hester Kohl, a certified health and wellness coach at the hospital who helped manage the healthy hospital initiative. “We recognize that both colleagues and visitors have limited time. Offering nutritious, delicious and affordable food makes it easier to eat healthy without the hassle of bringing it from home or leaving the hospital campus.”

In January, WCGH rearranged its beverage coolers and vending machines so that water and other non-sugar-sweetened beverages are at eye level. Since making the change, the hospital has seen an increase in healthy beverage consumption, with average monthly sales of water and other non-sugar-sweetened beverages increasing from 19 percent of total beverages sold to 25 percent. Water, which used to account for 4.2 percent of total beverages purchased, now makes up 9.5 percent.

The team also developed recipes for healthy desserts to be sold in the cafeteria. In March, more than 100 employees sampled three new desserts: sweet potato pudding, berry coconut quinoa parfait and a chocolate pudding parfait. According to Kohl, the new recipes were a hit and are selling out in the cafeteria whenever they are offered. The recipes use ingredients like fresh fruit, tofu, sweet potatoes and quinoa to increase nutritional benefits, reduce sugar and decrease calories and fat.

“This has been a great team effort from the nutrition services team,” said Sheila Costello, nutrition services manager at WCGH. “The staff has enjoyed being creative, developing and producing the recipes, and has been working very hard to make these healthy options available on a regular basis thanks to the PICH funding.”

The WCGH Best Café is located in the lower level of the hospital and is open from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily, serving three hot meals a day to staff, patients, volunteers and visitors.



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