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Big Y World Foods Inc. and Tops Markets LLC are among the grocers encouraging their customers to observe National Nutrition Month in March by taking advantage of the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System, a food-ranking program designed to help consumers find the most nutritious items on supermarket shelves.
Introduced as National Nutrition Week in 1973 and expanded to National Nutrition Month in 1980, the event was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) to promote better eating habits.
NuVal gives all foods a score from 1 to 100 -- the higher the score, the more nutritious the food. All scores are provided on shelf, so shoppers can compare the overall nutrition of the foods they buy at a glance. The scores are determined using an algorithm that looks at more than 30 food factors and ingredients, including sugar, sodium and fiber levels. The system was created by Dr. David Katz of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Derby, Conn., along with a dozen diet and nutrition experts.
“When National Nutrition Month was created, the slogan was ‘Invest in Yourself -- Buy Nutrition,’” noted Carrie Taylor, corporate dietitian at Springfield, Mass.-based Big Y, which operates 64 locations in Connecticut and Massachusetts and has more than 10,000 employees. “That is exactly what we offer in NuVal Scores. We help people make better food choices so they can invest in themselves. With this year’s theme, ‘Get Your Plate in Shape,’ we are able to reinforce healthful eating habits by showing customers how they can build a balanced and varied meal by trading up their selections for each food group.”
To teach schoolchildren about making better nutritional choices, Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops, which operates 132 Northeast supermarkets and employs more than 14,000 associates, is making a long-term commitment to the health of its communities by rolling out an educational program in public and private schools throughout upstate New York’s Erie and Niagara counties. Tops community outreach coordinator Lindsey Zaffarano holds a presentation aimed at children in grades K-8 on healthy living and how to use NuVal in the grocer’s stores. The interactive presentation features games, challenges and prizes to encourage kids to get involved and have fun while learning about the benefits of eating more nutritious foods and raising their level of physical activity.
NuVal will post a list of 31 foods that receive some of the system’s highest scores by category, one food for each day of National Nutrition Month. Visitors can visit NuVal’s website to see the “item of the day.”
Other grocers that offer the system are King Kullen, Price Chopper, Hy-Vee, Meijer, Brookshire’s, Skogen’s Festival Foods, Food City, United Supermarkets, Mariano’s Fresh Market, Scolari’s, Price Cutter, Robért Fresh Market, Coborn’s and select Metro Market locations.