HARTVILLE, Ohio -- Hartville IGA is enhancing its Weight Loss and Wellness Program with the launch of shelf tags that highlight better-for-you foods.
The tags are scheduled to be up in all five Hartville IGA stores here this month, according to Jenny Bingham, the store's wellness director and creator of the program.
Generic flags will read "IGA and Jenny Bingham's Weight Loss and Wellness Recommendations," and have space for an item description. Flagged items will be those included on the "Pantry List & Favorite Brands," a collection of better-for-you products, some of which are used in recipes discussed in the seminar. Items included in the recipes have experienced significant sales increases, said Bingham.
The Pantry List features more than 150 grocery items, including condiments, canned goods and frozen food. It includes generic categories, such as canned tomatoes and pumpkins, as well as national brands and private-label items.
Hartville hired Bingham as its full-time wellness director last September, according to Jane Tortola, co-owner of the IGAs.
While the Weight Loss and Wellness program has been offered in the retailer's Hartville store for the last 18 months, it just debuted at the new Green IGA SuperCenter, Green, Ohio. Six sessions, each lasting eight weeks, will be offered this year in both stores.
During the two-hour classes, Bingham not only distributes healthy recipes, but also teaches students how to read product labels. She then invites students to study the nutritional information with her.
Students also learn about stress management (including relaxation and exercise) and are given strategies for making lifestyle changes, rather than just prescriptions for losing weight.
The course is open to the public for $199, and to IGA employees free of charge. Separate courses are offered for the public and IGA employees.
A new aspect of the wellness program is a "Lunch and Learn" series that starts this month at the Green store. The program features home economists, dietitians and guest chefs who discuss information about healthy eating and creating a healthy lifestyle. Participants are fed a healthy lunch served to them as part of the $10 session fee.
Guest chefs demonstrate how to make some of the meals that are served as lunch, and that use Center Store and other products found in the supermarket.
Tortola explained that she is using target marketing to get people to attend the new lunch series.
"We targeted a corporate park, located an eighth of a mile from the Green store, that has about 1,300 workers," she said.
She expects a good turnout for the new series, which, like the weight-loss program, will be given in eight-week sessions.
The IGA stores have also launched a Jennie Bingham/IGA signature program of private-label items. Currently, these items are available in the bakery and deli as meal solutions, but Tortola said she plans to expand the program into frozen food and some grocery items, such as cookies and crackers.
Bingham also contributes an article each month for the employee newsletter and writes health tips for Hartville IGA's weekly ad. The ad sometimes contains a "wellness item" on promotion.
"She does a Wellness Corner in the weekly ad, with tips for the public on topics like cholesterol and diabetes," Tortola noted.
"So many weight-loss clinics and programs are very expensive," noted Tortola. "And you have to eat specific products. Jenny reccomends regular items in the grocery store."
Tortola also said that Bingham uses slides and other visual materials in her classroom to take participants "on a tour inside the body" and give them a deeper understanding of health and nutrition.