The Hannaford in Albany, NY is revolutionizing the way retail dietitians reach their customers. The upstate New York store opened the “Healthy Living Center” in conjunction with the YMCA and Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan. The center consists of a 5,600 square-foot gym with cardio equipment and a Zumba studio. In addition to providing the space, they offer a wide range of classes taught by personal trainers, RDs, and pharmacists. Topics range from fitness to disease management, and everything in between. The goal of the initiative is to reach populations vulnerable to chronic disease in a more holistic and sustainable way. Best of all, these services are offered 100% free to the general public
The project is a win-win for both the store and consumers. Although it is not required to be a customer to use the gym, the center has drawn in many new shoppers who would not have previously visited Hannaford. In addition, increasing physical activity and attention to wellness encourages consumers to make positive dietary changes and increase sales of healthier options, including produce.
In-store dietitian Patty Delmonico-Schardt, MS, RD, CDE says that the opening of the gym was instrumental to increasing her visibility and marketing her services. According to Delmonico-Schardt, “Folks start exercising and feeling better here and then want to work on their diets! They go right from some classes to my groups! I am able to walk around and meet folks to find out what the needs are and try to fill it.” She reported that in the eight months that the “Healthy Living Center” has been open, she has already seen great progress in weight loss and increased morale in the target populations.
The Albany Hannaford can serve as a model for other grocery chains looking to adopt similar programs around holistic health and nutrition. What better way for retail RDs to expand their influence to the community than by integrating nutrition and fitness on site!
For more information on Hannaford’s “Healthy Living Center” visit their website at http://www.healthyalbany.org/