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August 3, 2018

Northern Maine Medical Center teams with local farms

The Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent is stepping up its initiative to partner with local farms to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to patients.

"Given the increasing popularity of buying food products directly from local farmers, as well as the heightened concern regarding health and quality of food in hospitals, there has never been a better time to buy locally," according to a NMMC news release.

NMMC expects to purchase a wide range of foods, such as blueberries, strawberries, potatoes, squash, corn on the cob, carrots, onions, parsnips, beets, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, apples and green beans. Patient menus will have local items served at every meal. The cafeteria where employees and the public are served will also have local foods.

Partnerships with local farms have been in the works for over a year now, the release said. According to Casey Cote, director of support services, Circle B Farm in Fort Fairfield has stepped up to the plate and has organized a group of Good Agricultural Practices-certified farms in Aroostook County. Local growers interested in partnering with NMMC are encouraged to call Cote at 834-1314.

Farm-to-hospital initiatives in general are offering new outlets to local farmers.

In 2017, the Bangor Daily News reported that farmers in the Wells and York area were getting a boost from a new farm-to-hospital initiative at York Hospital. The hospital's food services director, Jorge Descarte, began sourcing local farm products in 2016 and expanded the initiative. Descarte visits the farmers, reviews the harvest schedule and considers trends in food, gluten-free and vegan options, and the dietary needs of patients and visitors.

One of America's 'Great Community Hospitals'

In July, Northern Maine Medical Center was named by Becker's Hospital Review as one of America's 100 Great Community Hospitals for 2018.

The 100 Great Community Hospitals list recognizes hospitals for their clinical quality, operational excellence, and economic impact on the surrounding area. NMMC was one of only two Maine hospitals on the list, with the other being Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick. The 49-bed NMMC appeared among the iVantage Top 100 Rural & Community Hospitals list in 2017 and earned the National Rural Healthcare Association's 2017 Top 20 Rural Community Hospitals in the U.S. distinction.

The five-star CMS-rated hospital also has a six-bed intensive care unit and serves an area of about 15,000 residents. In 2017, the hospital supported 525 employees and generated $88 million in economic activity for the local economy

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