AT HY-VEE, WE BELIEVE that if you can make a difference in the health of your customers, you should. We are passionate about helping customers direct their wellness destiny.
We began positioning our stores as a health destination eight years ago when we introduced a line of natural and organic foods that evolved into an entire department devoted to wellness. Our HealthMarket departments feature an array of grocery, produce, refrigerated and frozen foods, as well as personal care products and household items, that are organic, all-natural and environmentally friendly.
But that's only a start. As people connect the dots between what they eat and how they feel, they turn to professionals to help them meet their health and wellness goals, whether those goals are tied to prevention, disease management or weight. We have approximately 125 in-store registered dietitians, supported by the work of Hy-Vee's three corporate dietitians. Our in-store dietitians connect with shoppers on a personal level. They offer classes, conduct store tours, work with pharmacists to offer health screenings and counsel individuals on a one-to-one basis. Many dietitians are as well-known in their area as our store directors, who have long played an integral role in the communities they serve.
Another program offers a 10-week lifestyle management program with an emphasis on weight control, fitness and eating healthy. Participants appreciate the guidance of professional dietitians teaching them how to identify healthy foods, regulate their food intake and develop a fitness routine.
Our employees also matter to us. Our directives are designed to engage, encourage and reward employees for managing their health. Programs such as Live Healthy Hy-Vee, which runs in tandem with Live Healthy America, and lifestyle programs within existing medical benefits are two examples of how we encourage our employees to realize the rewards of wellness.
We are most excited about our newest health initiative, which has the potential to quickly elevate everyone's understanding of the food they buy. NuVal uses a scoring system (1 to 100) to indicate the nutritional value of a particular food compared with the recommended concentration of those nutrients in a healthy diet.
Hy-Vee also has a number of sustainability issues that promote the well-being of the environment. Our priorities include increasing energy and resource conservation; identifying areas for waste reduction and increased recycling; and focusing on sustainable products and reduced packaging. We are preparing to build a LEED-certified store in Madison, Wis., reinforcing our efforts to build and remodel responsibly.
Finally, to reinforce our commitment to health and wellness, we introduced the Hy-Vee Triathlon in 2007. The featured World Cup races demonstrate the athletic talents of the world's most elite professional triathletes; the remainder of the family weekend encompasses fitness events for people of all ages and physical abilities. In only two years, the Hy-Vee Triathlon has enjoyed phenomenal growth and national recognition.
Our goal is to make our company the healthiest one in America, our state the healthiest in the nation. It's an ambitious goal, to be sure. But it is of the utmost importance and very much worth the effort, vision and passion we expend to achieve it. That's why we are proud to make wellness central to our mission of helping make people's lives easier, healthier and happier.
Ric Jurgens is chairman, chief executive and president of Hy-Vee Inc., West Des Moines, Iowa, which operates 224 supermarkets and drug stores in seven states. In addition to providing services and programs that promote a healthy lifestyle, the company's stores emphasize freshness, variety and one-stop shopping convenience. Jurgens currently serves on several industry committees convened to help the consumer make healthy food choices.