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Louisiana’s largest independent grocer, Rouses Markets, and Ochsner Health System are launching a community initiative program -- “Choose Healthy” -- designed to educate people about the benefits of smart food and lifestyle choices, disease prevention, and regular medical checkups.
In a state ranked the eighth most obese in the nation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- meaning that nearly 30 percent of all residents are considered medically obese -- Louisianans are poised to benefit greatly from the partner program.
“People traditionally only get wellness information at the doctor’s office, clinic or hospital,” said Dr. Patrick Quinlan, CEO of Ochsner Health System, “but a grocery store is a natural setting for people to talk about nutrition and meal planning. Rouses has given us a great opportunity to reach people before they make their food choices.”
Rouses customers will find healthy, Ochsner-endorsed eating recommendations in every aisle of their market, and be able to take advantage of Ochsner education programs and materials and free health screenings, including blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and body fat. Rouses’ Chef Nino will be incorporating lighter and heart-healthy recipes into his cooking demonstrations. Customers will also be able to access recipes and information on smart food choices, proper meal planning and disease-specific diet alternatives via the Choose Healthy link at both the Rouses and Ochsner Web sites.
“We have always considered Rouses as more than just a place to buy groceries,” said Donald Rouse, president of Rouses Markets. “I think this will go far in educating and motivating our customers to lead healthier lifestyles. Having Ochsner-endorsed meal plans and recipes, and food recommendations clearly marked, makes it easier for people to make a healthier choice.”
The partnership will also benefit Rouses’ 4,800 team members, said Rouse, noting: “Ochsner will be providing free, in-store education and health screenings for our team members. If we educate our employees, they, in turn, will educate our customers.”
Rouse and Quinlan also believe Choose Healthy will benefit the local economy. Rouses has long promoted buying local, and Quinlan thinks that’s an important component of the obesity solution. “Part of Louisiana’s answer to the obesity crisis is encouraging people to eat fresh, local vegetables and seafood. Educating residents on a healthy diet, and encouraging them to take advantage of our natural resources, can shrink our community’s waistline and grow our local economy,” said Quinlan
Founded in 1960 by the late Anthony J. Rouse Sr. with a single store in Houma, La., Rouses Markets has 31 locations in Louisiana, making it the largest independent grocer in the state.