What is in this article?:
- State Championship: Grocers Join Bid for Healthy Iowa
- In the Blue Zones
- Room for Improvement
In the Blue Zones
Eighty-four towns and cities across Iowa submitted statements of interest to become Blue Zones communities, and 58 made it through to the second round. Of those making it through, 40 have a Hy-Vee store — mainly since the chain’s store directors have rallied local groups and residents.
“They’re very active on the Chamber of Commerce and involved in Rotary Clubs, so they brought [Blue Zones Project] to their attention and help fire up their communities,” noted Eddy.
The ability to assemble citizens is among the Blue Zones Project selection criteria, as is buy in from businesses interested in transforming the health of employees, noted Calhoun. “The success of the transformation will absolutely be predicated on community involvement,” she said.
Hy-Vee will lend its dietitians to Blue Zones transformations by having them teach residents how to turn their kitchens into Blue Zones. This can be achieved with small steps like removing TVs from eating environments and portioning snacks like pretzels into small bags to avoid overeating.
Towns not selected as demonstration sites may still become Blue Zones. Healthways will open a Blue Zones Learning Institute this summer to educate business and community leaders how to make the transformation.
Hy-Vee also plans to bring lessons learned in Blue Zones operating areas to all Iowans. “Our goal is to make all of Iowa a Blue Zone,” said Eddy.
Hy-Vee has experience in this area. As part of a separate project, the chain’s Albert Lea, Minn., store got involved with the AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project by replacing sugary snacks with soy nuts, apples, oranges and other foods consumed in Blue Zones, in a single checkout aisle.
It’s now adapting over 100 checklane fixtures in 105 stores across its eight-state territory to accommodate fresh fruit, nuts, baked chips, bottled water, milk and other healthy snacks to replace sugary food and drink. The better-for-you checkstands are branded Healthy Bites lanes. “Our customers love them,” Eddy said.