COURTESY STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
State and KTA Stores promote healthy eating
The pilot project on the Big Isle hopes to raise consumption of fruits and vegetables
The state has launched a campaign at Big Island KTA Super Stores to encourage shoppers to eat healthier with more fruits and vegetables.
A pilot project began Wednesday at the five markets with funding partially through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program.
There is a focus on lower-income families, but "it's a message that everyone can benefit from," said Alice Silbanuz, public and professional education coordinator of the state Health Department's Healthy Hawaii Initiative, in an interview.
She said the campaign next year will be expanded across the state with partnerships available to all interested grocery stores.
"We're working on what works and what doesn't and getting an understanding of how the grocery store operates. ... It's nice to start on a small scale and use those lessons learned for the next phase of the project," Silbanuz said.
Health Director Chiyome Fukino, a physician, said in news release that diets rich in fruits and vegetables "can help maintain healthy weight and may reduce the risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and certain cancers."
Signs have been posted in the participating KTA stores featuring appetizing photos of fruit and vegetables and accompanied by such rhymes as "Bananas are a perfect snack, easy to carry, easy to pack!" and "During the summer, when it's hot, watermelon hits the spot."
"It's been a pleasure working with the DOH," said Tracey Yamane of KTA Super Stores. "We're excited about the program. We hope it can be successful and used throughout other markets, as well."
KTA is featuring a fruit or vegetable every week during the four-month campaign and putting recipes using fruits and vegetables in the customers' bags of groceries, Yamane said.
"We're looking forward to getting them (customers) more excited about being healthy and eating fruits and vegetables," she said.
Prices will be discounted by KTA on featured produce and the stores will have demonstrations and food sampling, she said.
Barry Taniguchi, president of the stores, said: "The purchases that are made at the grocery store become the meals and snacks that the entire family consumes. This makes grocery stores and ideal place to encourage consumers to eat healthy foods."
Lola Irving, Healthy Hawaii Initiative project manager, said, "This strategy has proven effective for HHI projects such as the StairWell to Health, where point-of-decision prompts were used to encourage people to use the stairs."
The Community Grocery Store Project joins other projects in the Health Department's Start Living Healthy education campaign, which encourages residents to eat healthy food, and be more physically active and tobacco-free.
It will be evaluated to see if it is successful in encouraging more fruit and vegetable consumption, the Health Department said.