Hy-Vee to become first Blue Zones grocery store

Published 10:28 am Wednesday, January 21, 2015

On Friday, Hy-Vee will be officially designated as the first Blue Zones grocery store in Albert Lea.

Hy-Vee achieved this by completing the Blue Zones Project grocery store pledge.

The pledge requires grocery stores to implement pledge actions and scoring points. Out of 59 total points, a store must score 39 points to become a Blue Zones grocery store. They also must implement one pledge action from each category in a series of requirements.

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The categories are Promote Healthier Beverages, Environment and Education and Promotions.

Some pledge actions include limiting portion sizes of soda in checkout lane coolers to 12 ounces or less, making water available in all checkout lane coolers, promoting Blue Zones foods in end-cap displays, increasing display space of select fruits and vegetables, having an in-store dietitian and distributing healthy recipes in store, among others.

Each pledge action has a number of points assigned to it, and once a grocery store completes 39 of those points with at least one action in each category, it is eligible to become a Blue Zones grocery store.

One of the pledge actions of having an in-store dietitian was something Hy-Vee already had in dietitian Rachel Breneman.

“It makes sense to connect the Blue Zones Project with Hy-Vee since food is intricately linked to health,” Breneman said. “The value the Blue Zones Project brings to the community is immense. Hy-Vee’s role includes calling out healthy foods and beverages with signage and displays and maintaining the Blue Zones checkout lane, where all items are hand-picked to meet nutrition guidelines. Some other offerings include Blue Zones foods demonstrations each month, a scavenger hunt for kids, and dietitian lunch boxes that are Blue Zones Project approved. And of course, I’m available for tours, health assessments and shopping assistance.”

Earlier this month, the first Blue Zones worksite was designated in Albert Lea at Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services.

Ellen Kehr, Blue Zones Project organization lead, said the Blue Zones team is happy to designate Hy-Vee as a Blue Zones grocery store.

“The Blue Zones team is thrilled that Hy-Vee has taken the initiative to become a Blue Zones grocery store,” Kehr said. “By completing the designation process, Hy-Vee has demonstrated their commitment to providing the best possible environment for helping people make a healthy choice.”

To celebrate its designation, Hy-Vee will offer a special meal on Friday and Saturday of smoked chicken, garlic and herb spaghetti squash and steamed vegetables for $6.