PARKERSBURG - A partnership between Change the Future WV and an area grocery is bringing healthier food options to children and parents.
The Foodland grocery store on Plum Street in Parkersburg is piloting the healthy foods initiative, designating one checkout aisle as a "Healthy Options Aisle" and adding more displays of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the store.
The program will expand to four other Foodland stores in the Mid-Ohio Valley this summer, and officials say they hope the changes help youths and parents make healthier food choices.
Photo by Michael Erb
Healthy food items replace the traditional candy impulse items in the “Healthy Options Aisle” at the Foodland on Plum Street in Parkersburg. The move is part of a partnership initiative with the store and Change the Future WV.
"We are working with the grocers on the accessibility and promotion of fresh fruits and vegetables," said Amy Berner, grant coordinator for the Change the Future WV project. "We also wanted to have fresh fruits and vegetables available in other areas of the store."
Expanding the visibility of those items not only helps people to make better choices, but also gives the store the chance to sell more produce, said Foodland manager Dave Worst. The outside aisle of the store is the most heavily traveled, he said, with some patrons not walking through the center aisles or entering the store's produce section during a visit.
Worst said the store also is working to put compatible items within the same areas. For example a display of bananas and peaches now sits next to the milk section.
"We sell about 30-40 pounds of bananas a day," Worst said.
The store also replaced many of its small toys with items that promote physical activity, such as jump ropes or bouncy balls. Those items are especially popular in the cereal aisle where children are more likely to see them.
"Anything that encourages them to have physical activity," Worst said.
As the program expands to other stores, Worst said he will monitor which items sell and what changes need to be made.
"It's an evolving program," he said. "We're just trying to fine tune the items we sell and keep it fresh. It's another tool that we can use to help out the schools and parents."
"We are really pleased that Foodland is on board with our initiative," Berner said. "Instead of going through the aisle and picking up a pack of chips or candy, you have the option of picking fruit or another healthy item. We want nutritious items to be readily accessible to people in the Mid-Ohio Valley."
Berner said the program is funded through the state, which received money through the federal stimulus grant. For more information on Change the Future WV or any of its programs, visit www.changethefuturewv.org.