Two New Jersey Hospitals Launch Guiding Stars Nutrition Guidance Program

New At-a-Glance Food Rating System at Hackensack University Medical Center and Overlook Medical Center Cafeterias Helps Visitors, Staff Identify Healthier Menu Options

Portland, ME (August 8, 2012)—Two progressive, award-winning New Jersey hospitals have become the first in the Garden State to implement an innovative program designed to help visitors and staff make healthier choices when dining in the facilities’ cafeteria and other public food service areas.

Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center and Overlook Medical Center in Summit, N.J. today announced the launch of the Guiding Stars® nutrition guidance program, an at-a-glance rating system that helps diners quickly and easily identify nutritious choices to encourage healthy eating habits.

The Guiding Stars system rates, with zero to three stars, the nutritional value of every available item in the facility, including hot and cold prepared foods, salad bar, grab-and-go items and beverages. Each item is then labeled with a corresponding tag, sticker or other signage: one Guiding Star is good, two Guiding Stars is better and three Guiding Stars is best. Foods that receive no stars do not meet the program’s rigorous criteria. All items are evaluated using a patented algorithm based on the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans and other national evidence-based nutrition policies.

“We are very pleased to introduce the Guiding Stars program into these two innovative leaders in the health care community,” said John Eldredge, director of brand and business development for Guiding Stars. “Being in the business of wellness, it makes perfect sense for these facilities to encourage healthier eating by making it simple for employees and visitors to make nutritious food choices.”

Hackensack and Overlook  are part of a growing number of hospitals, public schools, colleges and other food service facilities, as well as more than 1,700 grocery stores, to implement the Guiding Stars system that helps diners and shoppers cut through the clutter of the Nutrition Facts panel and ingredients list by clearly and simply highlighting good nutritional choices.

“Encouraging a healthy lifestyle is a core part of our mission, and the Guiding Stars system makes it easy for guests and employees to take an active role in improving and maintaining their overall health and quality of life,” said Irma Newdorf, R.D., M.Ph., assistant director of nutrition and food management at HackensackUMC.

Overlook, part of Atlantic Health System, is taking the program a step further, coupling Guiding Stars with its Summit Fit Program that awards fit points to employees for making healthy choices. Employees earn points for every Guiding Stars-rated item they buy, along with other healthy choices like drinking water rather than sugary beverages. Employees can then redeem accumulated points for gift certificates good toward purchases in the hospital café.

“In addition to our focus on top-notch patient care, we recognize the opportunity we have as a community leader to encourage good health and well-being among everyone in the communities we serve,” said Todd Kaminksy, retail coordinator for food service at Overlook. “By improving the nutritional profile of our offerings and demonstrating just how easy it is to make nutritious choices here at our facility, our goal is to encourage staff and visitors to make the same good choices once they leave our campus.”

In addition to providing nutritional guidance for cafeteria guests, the Guiding Stars program can also be easily expanded to include patient menus in hospital settings.

For more information about the Guiding Stars program, visit

About Guiding Stars Licensing Co.

Since 2006, Guiding Stars has been leading the way in helping consumers make nutritious food choices and has received a U.S. Patent for the Guiding Stars nutrition rating algorithm. The Guiding Stars nutrition guidance program is a simple, easy-to-understand tool for making good nutrition choices and is designed to make a positive and lasting impact on public health. Guiding Stars is currently found in more than 1,700 supermarkets including Hannaford, Food Lion, Sweetbay, Homeland, Kings Super Market, Marsh and Loblaw’s Supermarkets. Guiding Stars has also expanded into public schools, colleges and hospitals and appears on the Shopper mobile iPhone application. Additional information can be found at

About Hackensack University Medical Center

HackensackUMC, a non-profit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, New Jersey, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state, and home to the only Level II Trauma Center in the county. This 775-bed facility has gone beyond traditional thinking by creating an entire campus of care, including: the Heart & Vascular Hospital, the John Theurer Cancer Center, the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital, and the Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital. As a result of using science and creativity to push medicine further, HackensackUMC was listed as the number one hospital in New Jersey and one of the top four New York metro area hospitals by the U.S. News & World Report, and has received nine national rankings by in: Cancer; Cardiology & Heart Surgery; Ear, Nose & Throat; Gastroenterology; Geriatrics; Neurology & Neurosurgery; Orthopedics; Urology; and the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital ranked as one of the Top 25 Best Children’s Hospitals for neurology and neurosurgery in the 2012-13 Best Children’s Hospitals list. The medical center has also been named one of the Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals® and one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals by HealthGrades®. It is listed among the Leapfrog Top Hospitals List, received 17 Gold Seals of Approval™ by the Joint Commission, and is listed as one of the 50 Best Hospitals in America by Becker’s Hospital Review. It was first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence. The medical center is the hometown hospital of the New York Giants, and remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events. To learn more about one of the nation’s 50 best hospitals, visit:

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System is one of the largest non-profit health care systems in New Jersey, comprised of Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center in Summit and Newton Medical Center. The three medical centers – all accredited by The Joint Commission – have a combined total of 1,308 licensed beds and more than 2,750 affiliated physicians providing a wide array of health care services to the residents of Northern and Central New Jersey. Specialty service areas include advanced cardiovascular care, pediatric medical and surgical specialties, neurology, orthopedics, and sports medicine. Each of these programs has earned top ratings and recognitions in their respective fields. Atlantic Health System is the official health care partner of the New York Jets and an official health care provider of the New Jersey Devils. For more information, visit

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Maya Zarchan


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