MAITLAND, Fla. -- Joan Zeckler, R.D., Albertson's corporate dietitian for the Boise, Idaho-based retailer's Florida division here, told SN that among her favorite store-tour activities are the hour-long tours she conducts for youngsters. Center Store is at the heart of building the food pyramid, using products from the grocery aisles and the freezer.
The participants take part in a scavenger hunt, in groups of two or three, using an Albertson's food basket to bring back the products they find. Some are frozen, like Cole Texas Toast, Cascadian Farm strawberries, BirdsEye vegetables and Simply Grillin' vegetables for the grill. Name brands are mentioned because those manufacturers are the ones that give financial support to the program, she said.
Bringing attention to the frozen-food aisle is a good way to get the youngsters acquainted with the different sections of the supermarket, Zeckler added.
In the grocery sections, they are asked to locate Barilla pasta, salad dressing and olive oil, which Zeckler said is hard for them to remember as part of the fat group. "Fat isn't bad if you just have a tad" is a rap rhyme she uses to assist their memories.
Of the 115 stores in Florida, Zeckler travels to the bigger ones, and when there is a grand opening she'll give her nutritional presentation at a school and a retirement center. "I try to get the community involved and aware of Albertson's and what we are doing as far as nutrition," she said.
She often works with Girl Scouts of all ages and the occasional Boy Scout troop, too, since both groups' members can earn a Healthy Eating merit badge. She plans to reach out more to the male contingent this fall, she said.
The groups build a food guide pyramid, using food models of recommended serving sizes, as well as handouts that they fill out and individualize as to their ages, figuring out how many servings they need. For instance, for carbohydrates, the rhyme used by Zeckler goes: "Dudes with brains/eat foods with grains/6 a day/that's the way." Six to 11 daily servings of grains is one of the USDA Food Pyramid goals.
At the conclusion of the tour Zeckler gives the kids a healthy snack, like Kozy Shack chocolate pudding, SunMaid raisins or Sunsweet dried fruit. Goody bags are put together, containing fresh fruit, a dried fruit and some coupons.
Zeckler gives parents the monthly Shoppers Guide so they can read the nutrition information when they get home. The Nutrition Hotline number is there, a toll-free number they can call that is directed to Zeckler's voice mail. She said she calls the customer back within 24 to 48 hours, with answers to questions such as some recent ones about low cholesterol snacks, eating a low-fat diet, diabetes, weight loss and nutrition facts information.