College Square Hy-Vee becomes first Blue Zones grocer - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

College Square Hy-Vee becomes first Blue Zones grocer

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

The Blue Zones projects in Waterloo and Cedar Falls are taking a step forward. 

College Square Hy-Vee is now the area's first "Blue Zones certified" grocery store.   So what does the designation mean and how will it help make our communities healthier?

As you stroll down the produce aisles of the College Square Hy-Vee in Cedar Falls, you might notice some changes now that this store is "Blue Zones" certified.

"It's kind of a refocus on location of products in our store.  We want the healthiest choice to be the easiest choice for our customers.  So it's kind of more of a visual eye-level kind of focus," said Niki Keller with Hy-Vee.

Produce aisles are also wider now, giving you more room to choose the freshest foods.  You'll also now find water in every beverage cooler.  And aisle eight has healthy on-the-go snack options, like fresh fruit and granola bars.

"Those tiny little choices add up to huge results over time, and that's the goal:  long-term, better well being," Keller said.

And Hy-Vee wants to go above and beyond its Blue Zones certification.  One of the next steps could be designating special parking spaces far away from the store to encourage you to walk more.

Other grocery chains are now expressing interest in similar efforts, too.

"Hy-Vee is such a community supporter, and this is an opportunity to have them kind of be the trailblazers for a lot of other businesses and organizations we'd like to get involved with the Blue Zones project," said Sue Beach with the Cedar Valley Blue Zones projects.

Beyond the grocery store aisles, other initiatives will kick in to help achieve Blue Zones goals.

"We're going to have some walking MOI's, which is a group of individuals that get together for 10 weeks at a time to do some walking," Beach said.

They're all small steps aimed at making big strides for a healthier community.

Montage and the Brown Bottle in Cedar Falls have also now become "Blue Zones certified" restaurants by offering healthy menu options, including smaller portion sizes and even low-calorie desserts.

The Cedar Valley's first Blue Zones employer will be designated soon, and the full Blue Zones project gets underway November 28th.

Learn more and get involved with the Waterloo Blue Zones project here.  For Cedar Falls information, click here.

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