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Spencer grocery stores earn Blue Zones certification

Friday, August 31, 2012

Spencer Blue Zones Program Director Alison Simpson presents the Blue Zones certification to Fareway Executive Vice President Reynolds Cramer, Spencer General Manager Karl Levisay, and Spencer Assistant Manager Dan Chapman at Thursday afternoon's ribbon-cutting ceremony.
(Photo by Kate Padilla) [Order this photo]
Spencer Blue Zones certified two of its grocery stores this week, making Spencer Fareway and Hy-Vee the first two grocery stores in the state to earn a Blue Zones certification.

"We began a year ago on this," said Karl Levisay, general manager at Spencer's Fareway. "What we accomplished is good for the community. The staff here have put in tremendous effort."

To earn its certification, Fareway has:

- Designated eight parking spaces as Blue Zones spaces, to encourage patrons to move naturally.

- Set up a check-out lane to carry fresh fruit and other healthier alternatives to the traditional candies, cookies, and crackers.

- Posted signs on their healthier products.

- Changed all of the scales in the produce section to weigh produce by number of servings instead of ounces.

- Promoted their local produce.

- Published healthy recipes in their "Centsible Health" magazine.

- Labeled the healthy beverages in the beverage coolers.

- Designed an endcap, a portion of the aisle that generally displays promoted products, to feature Blue Zones-encouraged foods.

While some of these initiatives were in place before the certification process began, Fareway Executive Vice President Reynolds Cramer is very proud of the work Spencer Fareway has done to earn the certification.

"They've worked so hard," Cramer said. "It's really exciting to have this achievement. Spencer's a great community, and the initiative is still growing."

Cramer also noted Spencer Fareway is "ahead of the curve" with other Fareway stores in promoting healthier alternatives and environmental changes.

Spencer Hy-Vee also achieved its certification this week.

"Our mission statement is: Making lives easier, healthier and happier," Carl Haidar, store director at Spencer Hy-Vee, said. "It's a work-in-progress, but we're very proud and very fortunate to be involved."

Haidar noted Hy-Vee's push for certification was a "community effort," and they've received very positive responses from the changes that have been made.

As part of its efforts to earn Blue Zones certification, Spencer Hy-Vee has pledged to designate a portion of its produce section for fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, with serving and nutritional information posted.
(Photo by Kate Padilla) [Order this photo]
To earn its certification, Hy-Vee has:

- Created a Blue Zones checkout lane that features fresh fruit, nuts, and Blue Zones- encouraged snacks.

- Made water available in all beverage coolers in the checkout lanes.

- Created an endcap to promote the Blue Zones healthy alternatives.

- Designated a part of the produce section to carry fresh-cut fruits and vegetables in easy grab-and-go containers, with nutrition and serving information on the labels.

- Pledged to use whole grains in at least 25 percent of in-store bakery items.

- Distributed healthy recipes in stores.

- Increased the display space of select fruits and vegetables.

- Offered taste tests of fruits, vegetables, and other Blue Zones-encouraged foods.

"It's a learning experience," Haidar said, "but we expect it to grow."

As they move forward with their certification, Haidar said they will continue to listen to what their customers have to say in order to offer the best shopping experience they can.

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This is all great and now I would like to see those healthier items on sale more often or the prices dropped more often or some sort of incentive program to make purchasing them an easier decision over processed food.

-- Posted by Leah Cauthron on Fri, Aug 31, 2012, at 10:06 AM

Imagine, grocery stores promoting 25% of their products as healthy. What a novel idea.

-- Posted by Cookster on Fri, Aug 31, 2012, at 10:36 AM

Who decides whats in the "blue zone" ?? The blue zone czar??

-- Posted by clayfarmer on Tue, Sep 4, 2012, at 7:11 AM

Blue zone czar is good.

I call it Big Brother.

-- Posted by spencer-gma on Fri, Sep 7, 2012, at 1:50 PM

This BlueZone thing is a joke. I just got done reading and reviewing all what is required for this. For these Stores to become BlueZone cerified, they must do the above statement, have places to give cooking classes, creat bluezone parking furthest from the store(ppl must be really stupid to not figure out that if you park further away, the healthier), create a Bluezone check out lane, designate space in shopping carts for fruits and vegies, have an in-store dietitian available full or part time, intall blue zones food shelf talkers and healthy alternative shelf talkers, offer grocery store tours(wow), offer in-store scavenger hunt for kids, install an audio repeater of healthy options(there goes the music that we listen too), create healthy brown-bag lunches to go(i like this one option).

There are many more requirements, and not so bad, but I don't think no one has stopped to think how much this is really going to cost or how this is going to drive up prices, because stores are going to have to composate for having to add on to the buildings, make new zones in parking lots, hire ppl that have really no use to most ppl, buying special cart or items for your fruits and vegies,ect ect.

I am all for ppl wanting to be healthy if that is what they want, but I also think that you the ppl should not allow this to go thru until you see all the requirements that have to be met by ppl, goverment officials, employers, and over all the community. If you find what the mayor is doing in New York City a joke or somewhat baffling, well read up on the Bluezone rules!!!!!!!!!! If you think that the goverment spending or our town spending is out of control, read up on Bluezone!! If you thought breastfeeding station in certain buildings, is a joke, there is more to it than what is being said. Here is one that I found to be one of the funniest part about this. If you a citizen pledge to do this and want to be certified, well you better love God. As one of your requirements you must go to 4 worship services in the next 90 days!!!

Please Please stop Spencer from doing this. It has some good points, but has way more wasteful spending requirements than just is being told to our council and ppl that want to invest. If you would like more information, let me know, cuss I am fighting to keep this from happening!!!!

-- Posted by acerdj on Sat, Sep 8, 2012, at 7:26 AM

I also wish Blue Zones would also provide guidance to stores on how they can keep their costs down while instituting these healthy changes. Food prices cannot go up much more and still be realistic, especially if we changeover to healthier choices. I'd be fine with spending more of our family budget on food the helps us be healthier, if it weren't for all the other expenses crowding out our budget. We do pretty well having vegetables or fruit with every meal and lean meats, and keeping fruit around for a snack, but stores get more price incentives from the makers of processed foods to drive the prices down with specials and coupons. :-/

-- Posted by AmyPeterson on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 9:23 AM

As I understand it, The Blue Zones Project offers grocery stores and individuals a "menu" of items to choose from. As for the parking spots, the grocery stores don't have to create new parking spots, they just have to put a couple signs up calling the spots farthest away "Blue Zones Project" spots. Of course people know what to do to be healthy, but they still aren't doing it. A lot of the options sound low cost and none require "adding on to buildings." In order to be chosen to become a part of the program, there has to be a certain amount of citizen and government support already in place...before the process even starts. I've read the personal pledge. You only have to pick one item out of approximately 16. You don't have to go to church if that is not your thing. As for cost, I think the USDA just did an analysis that showed people how to eat healthy on a budget...It was less expensive than eating processed food.

-- Posted by mmb385 on Thu, Sep 13, 2012, at 3:28 PM

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