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ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- This year Wegmans Food Markets' "Eat Well. Live Well Challenge," introduced five years ago to show employees what exercise, fruits, and vegetables could do for their overall health, opened up enrollment to family members of employees and workers at 73 other companies and organizations here.
Employers such as the University of Rochester, Eastman Kodak Co., Xerox Corp., Rochester Institute of Technology, all the major health care companies and the Monroe County and Rochester city governments stepped up to accept the challenge, for a total of over 32,000 participants.
As part of the challenge, for eight weeks participants attempt to walk a minimum of 10,000 steps and eat five cups of fruits and vegetables each day.
Wegmans gave all of its employees a free pedometer for counting steps (The grocer made pedometers available at cost ($4.95) to employees of the other companies), and all participants entered their daily statistics into the "Eat Well. Live Well Challenge" Web site.
Wegmans employees who took part in the 2007 Challenge walked a total of 2.7 million miles, with the average distance covered by each person 251 miles, and ate a total of 1.9 million cups of fruits and vegetables, or 4.2 cups daily per person. Participants who work at Wegmans reported lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar readings, as well as higher energy levels and weight loss.
The Challenge had an effect at other workplaces as well: An employee at another company said that some of the candy dishes on people's desks were replaced by fruit and vegetable bowls, and that the cafeteria offered more fruit choices for dessert.
Marcie Bartolotta, manager of employee wellness at Wegmans, pointed out that the Web site also offers a free tracking form and other guidance to anyone interested in undertaking a personal Challenge, at https://www.eatwelllivewell.org/.
According to Wegmans nutritionist Jane Andrews, "Because two out of three adults are overweight, and obesity is growing as a problem for children in this country, we designed the Eat Well. Live Well Challenge to be easy and fun -- so people could stick with the changes for at least eight weeks or, better yet, permanently."
In other Wegmans news, the retailer said it_s planning two new 150,000-square-foot stores, for which leases have been signed, in Fredericksburg, Va. (Spotsylvania County) and Collegeville, Pa. If final site plan approval is obtained for Fredericksburg, the store will be part of Celebrate Virginia South, a large multiuse project under development by Silver Cos. and could open in 2009. If final site plan approval is received for Collegeville, the store will be part of the mixed-use Providence Town Center and could open in 2009.
Family-owned Wegmans operates 70 supermarkets in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland.