WATERLOO, Iowa --- Hometown Foods is now a Blue Zones Grocery Store.
Shoppers at Hometown Foods will now find more healthy choices, tips and educational tools.
The makeover includes increased space for fruits and vegetables, water at each checkout-lane beverage cooler and signage that nudge shoppers towards the healthy options.
In addition, Hometown Foods employees are encouraged to take a personal pledge to improve their well-being.
Jill Eilderts, manager at the Waterloo Hometown Foods, said Blue Zones Project signs on shopping carts saying "put fruit and vegetables here" and on shelves are a big hit.
"It's brought more awareness than anything. It's caused customers to ask a lot of questions," Ehlers said. "We want them to realize there's a healthy alternative to most products."
The Blue Zones Project is a nationwide effort to ignite community-by-community well-being transformation. Waterloo and Cedar Falls were chosen as Iowa pilot communities in May.
The project is based on principles laid out in a book by Dan Buettner, which focuses on what community attributes contribute to healthier residents. At the core, it's what people eat.
"We feel as a company it's our responsibility to help solve the obesity problem that's out of control in adults and children. We want healthy employees and customers," Ehlers said.
"Research shows by putting out reminders, people are more willing to make healthy choices."
For example, Hometown Foods has a Blue Zones Project Specials card next to brown rice because it's more healthy than white. Pasta made with whole grains are tagged vs. regular pasta and organic/natural peanut butter is featured, just to name a few items.