Marsh Tackles Obesity with New Wellness Offerings
By offering one of the most comprehensive nutrition and wellness programs among retail grocers, Marsh Supermarkets has joined the fight to combat rising obesity rates in its home state of Indiana.
Marsh’s unique suite of in-store programs and online tools and resources – including access to a full-time registered dietitian – empowers shoppers with the knowledge and information to make healthier food choices that fit their personal lifestyles.
“Marsh is committed to improving the health and wellness of the communities we serve. That is why we are offering one of the most comprehensive supermarket nutrition programs in the country, all under the leadership of a registered dietitian with more than 25 years of experience,” said Joe Kelley, Marsh chairman, CEO and president. “Our Marsh team wants to make it easy, convenient, and affordable for shoppers to make healthier food choices for their families. Working with our customers and communities, we can have a meaningful impact on people’s health.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indiana has the 16th highest rate of adult obesity in the nation. Nearly one in three Indiana adults and nearly 15 percent of children in the state are obese.
To help combat this, Marsh is offering three complementary in-store nutrition programs that address the diverse health needs and preferences of its shoppers.
Project 18 is a program developed by Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent, Ball State University and Marsh. The grassroots program, designed to fight childhood obesity, includes an 18-week school curriculum for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders. At school, children learn how to set goals, eat smarter and get active. When shopping at Marsh, students and their families can look for “Project 18 Approved” tags next to healthy, kid-friendly food items, from snacks and cereals to drinks and desserts.
“If we are going to have a sustainable impact on the health of our communities in Indiana, then we need to work with our young people and give them the tools, knowledge and motivation for a lifetime of healthier living,” said Mary Snell, registered dietitian and Marsh’ director of nutrition and wellness.
Guiding Stars is an in-store program that helps Marsh shoppers easily identify foods that offer the most nutrition for the calories. The program uses a simple zero-to-three-star rating system. Food items with three stars represent the best food choices. By looking for the stars on shelf tags, Marsh customers don’t have to read confusing nutrition labels to make smart food choices.
Easy to Eat Well is a complementary in-store program that uses symbols or tags to help shoppers easily identify foods that address specific dietary or lifestyle preferences, including products that are heart healthy, low sodium, organic, gluten free or whole grain.
Snell, a nutrition educator, joined Marsh in May 2011 to oversee and expand the supermarket’s nutrition and wellness programs, including an overhaul of the food and nutrition website. The grocer’s new myNutrition site is customized toward shoppers’ health concerns and questions. Every month, Snell discusses a healthy practice that has proven to reduce a person’s risk for diet-related diseases—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. She posts a new blog entry each week that highlights healthy foods and ways that Marsh shoppers can incorporate these food choices into their menus and diets.
In September, Marsh began featuring its nutrition programs on all paper grocery bags at its Marsh and O’Malia’s Supermarket locations in Indiana.
Indianapolis-based Marsh Supermarkets Inc. operates 70 Marsh stores, including three O’Malia’s Supermarkets and 27 MainStreet Markets in Indiana and Ohio, with 40 Indiana pharmacy locations.