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    Stop & Shop, Giant Food Launch 'Major Consumer Wellness Initiative'

    The aim of the initiative is to grant shoppers easier access to needed medications during cold and flu season, as well as to enable them to make healthier food choices.

    As part of what the Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. and Giant Food, LLC are calling "a major consumer wellness initiative," the chains have introduced a free prescription program encompassing 36 generic antibiotics in nine basic categories. The program will run from Jan. 2 to March 21 at all Stop & Shop and Giant pharmacies.

    "Stop & Shop and Giant pharmacies are committed to improving the health and wellness in our communities during the winter season, when families are susceptible to coughs, and certain cold-related and bacteria-borne illnesses," noted Andrea Astrachan, consumer advisor for Stop & Shop and Giant Food. "As the provider of fresh, wholesome foods that help our customers stay healthy, we feel it is equally important to offer these free antibiotics to fight illness."

    According to Astrachan, the stores additionally offer up to a 90-day supply on over 350 commonly prescribed generic drugs for only $9.99.

    Stop & Shop and Giant are promoting the program with TV advertising, physician outreach, in-store communication, and a greater web presence. Shoppers can find more information, along with a list of the antibiotics covered by the program, at www.stopandshop.com/antibiotics.

    The chains are also this month rolling out a product-labeling system aimed at helping shoppers find the most nutritious foods in their stores. The "Healthy Ideas" program will designate over 3,000 of the stores' products and fresh produce with a bright green-and-blue symbol that means they meet or exceed the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the USDA Food Pyramid (Mypyramid.gov), and the FDA definition of what makes a food healthy. According to the Wall Street Journal, the designated products represent about 10 percent of the store's total inventory and include items that run the gamut from dairy products to pancake mix to frozen Brussels sprouts.

    "It is now easier than ever to find foods that have less fat, saturated fat and sodium," a Stop & Shop/Giant Food spokeswoman told Progressive Grocer. "It also ensures that the foods selected are a good source of at least one nutrient (fiber, whole grains, calcium and minerals)."

    Healthy Ideas joins such retailer nutrition programs as Hannaford's "Guiding Stars" system and NuVal, powered by the Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQUI) and currently implemented by Price Chopper and Hy-Vee.

    Among CPG companies, Kraft, PepsiCo, and Unilever are currently collaborating with nutritionists on a "Smart Choices" label that would be placed on certain products as part of a program slated to kick odd this summer this summer.

    Recently the Ahold USA divisions have held Affordable Food Summits, offered customers Real Deal savings, and grown their line of value-priced private label products, as ways to help consumers deal with the sinking economy.

    Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop employs over 59,000 associates and operates stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, New York and New Jersey. Landover, Md.-based Giant Food operates 182 supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia, and employs about 21,000 associates. Included within the 182 stores are 163 full-service pharmacies.

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