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    An Ounce of Prevention

    The Fresh Grocer is creating healthier associates with a new fitness program

    The Fresh Grocer is a community-based independent grocer that specializes in providing high quality perishables in urban and suburban environments, and operates seven stores in the Greater Philadelphia area.

    But while its mission is to provide wholesome food choices where little of such food is available, it is also addressing the problems caused when too much of the wrong foods are, namely obesity and related health issues.

    The grocer recently launched a pilot program among its senior store associates called the Fresh ‘n Fit Challenge, in which participants set specific health goals – such as losing weight – and offering prizes for those who showed the most success. The grand prize, an all expenses paid trip for two, went to front end supervisor Nancy Urbanski, who lost a total of 44 pounds. Urbanski began the Fresh ‘n Fit Challenge at a CDC weight status of ‘overweight’ and ended the challenge with a ‘normal’ weight status. “Even without the prize for winning the challenge, the outcome has been well worth it!” she said.

    In total, the 12 people who participated in the weight loss competition dropped a total of over 150 lbs.

    The success of the pilot led to the expansion of the program to all store-level associates. Competing employees were given a start-up kit including a pedometer, water bottle, and a fitness guide, and more than 100 associates weighed in when it kicked off this past January.

    Programs such as these benefit employers is many ways. First, there are real-dollar savings in terms of healthcare costs when a company runs such initiatives with such high levels of participation. Then there are productivity benefits coming from fewer sick days and higher energy among employees.

    In addition, there is a greater, intrinsic benefit to companies that run such programs, and that is a boost in employee loyalty and morale, as participants who meet their goals end up with a greater sense of well-being, and it’s their employer they have to thank for it.

    And since 99 percent of The Fresh Grocer store employees live within a mile of the store where they work, this healthier living translates to healthy eating, and who provides the healthiest food around? You got it. The Fresh Grocer.

    Everybody wins. Happy and healthy employees, happy and healthy community, and happy and healthy grocer.

    You’ll find much more to read about The Fresh Grocer in the cover story of our April issue of Progressive Grocer Independent.

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