Food retailers keep increasing their health and wellness offerings.
Giant Food has launched online classes designed to help consumers keep up with their health care needs during the pandemic, when routine medical appointments can be difficult to obtain.
The food retailer said Monday that its free, weekly online nutrition and healthy living classes are aimed at supporting the greater community, as well as individuals with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked people without urgent health care needs to talk to their doctors via online, phone or email channels – methods often described with the umbrella term “telemedicine.” Giant said its new program reflects that call.
Giant Food is deploying its in-house team of 11 licensed nutrition professionals to operate the new online classes. Before the pandemic, those workers offered in-person classes and consultations. Online courses will cover such topics as healthy snacking, healthy meals that can be made at home, managing cholesterol and high blood pressure, and how to make healthy lifestyle changes, among other subjects.
“Research shows that even limited short term access to regular health care during a crisis can have long lasting effects on lifestyle conditions like diabetes and heart disease," said Lisa Coleman, MS, RD, and director of healthy living at Giant Food. "Our customers are cooking more, often on a limited budget, and are feeling uncertain about how to best adapt their routines. Our goal is to provide easily accessible support during this stressful time which can often exacerbate issues like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and more.”
Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, food retailers were working to increase customer health and wellness programs. According to The Food Marketing Institute's (FMI) "2019 Retailer Contributions to Health and Wellness" report, 90% of food retailers operate health-and-wellness programs, with 49% of those businesses having them for both employees and customers. That represents an 86% increase since 2017.
The last few months of pandemic prevention efforts have led some food retailers to get further into health services, even if via relatively indirect methods that don’t involve grocery stores. Take The Kroger Co. as one example. The chain recently expanded its free COVID-19 testing, which is now offered in six states. The free testing is meant for health care workers, first responders and people with COVID-19 symptoms. Offering this testing involves Kroger partnering with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Commonwealth of Kentucky, eTrueNorth and Gravity Diagnostics, and offered via the company’s Kroger Health unit.
Giant Food is headquartered in Landover, Md., and operates 163 supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia with approximately 20,000 associates. Parent company Ahold Delhaize USA is No. 4 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.