HURON — A healthy stamp of approval may be donning local business’s food products indicating a healthy choice.
The “Healthy Huron” campaign’s nutrition committee is asking for Huron businesses’ cooperation in helping to guide consumers in choosing a product that has exceptional nutritional value through labeling the products with “Healthy Huron” brochures, stickers, ads, and handouts.
“We help customers and restaurants make the healthy choice an easy choice,” said Kim Rieger of Huron Regional Medical Center.
Rieger, along with nutritionist Sarah Sedel, are spearheading the effort to provide Huron with more insight in leading a healthier lifestyle.
“We took surveys from 200 people and did similar programs,” said Sedel. “More people would participate so that was an indicator it was growing.”
The “Healthy Huron” symbol indicates which products qualify as healthy choices. Every ingredient is evaluated for its nutritional value, which helps ensure consumers do not fall victim to deceiving labels, such as “natural” and “organic”, that are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, rendering them of free use for the sake of appeal and advertisement. “We take a look at all the ingredients to make sure the food or dish not only sounds healthy but IS healthy,” said Sedel.
Rieger and Sedel said the businesses and restaurants would not have to necessarily change their menu if they choose to participate in the program and the committee is very “willing to work with them to find ways to make dishes healthier.”
“It has been a trial and error process trying to figure out what works for certain businesses and what wouldn’t work,” said Rieger. “It’s of no cost to the business owners and we want to promote them.” Sedel said the committee is “trying to make this customizable for businesses.”
Only a few Huron businesses are participating in the program thus far despite the incentive of free advertisement. These businesses, which include Putters & Scoops, Aroma, and Coborn’s Grocery, have altered their menus and product presentations to include a “Healthy Huron” stamp on their available, healthy food options. Rieger says there is already a points system in place, 100 points being the healthiest score, at Coborn’s Grocery. “So for every item in the grocery store there is a number to help guide you when shopping healthy,” said Rieger.
Grocery stores have also been challenged as well by the nutrition committee to not only indicate what foods are the healthier options but to switch out the tempting sugary snacks and soda pops displayed right beside the checkout areas with fresh produce and activity-promoting toys. The idea is to get kids, and adults, to choose a healthier snack, which would help the alarming obesity rate amongst Beadle County children. “Our children are more obese than any other county in the state,” said Rieger.
Wal-Mart and local grocery stores in West Virginia switched the junk foods out for healthy fruits and vegetables and found many of their sales tripled. The consumers in the stores were also very happy to see healthier options being offered, especially those with young children, who are often the target consumers of the strategically placed candy bars. “We’ve talked with Coborn’s but hope that Wal-Mart will participate in these ‘healthier aisles’,” said Rieger. “We don’t know yet if we can fully switch out the candy for fresh produce because of possible contracts with product manufacturers who pay to place their products there.”
Businesses of Huron are urged to get involved in the effort to provide better access to healthy foods by contacting the committee or attending one of the meetings. The meetings are held quarterly, and the next meeting is scheduled to be held in September, providing ample time to ensure attendance. For the complete article see the 06-26-2013 issue.
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