Sioux City Hy-Vee's Become Blue Zones Certified

The grocery store with a friendly smile in every aisle is now focusing on helping Siouxlanders get healthier. Hy-Vee is now partnering with the folks from the Blue Zones Project to encourage people to live healthier lifestyles.

Friday, all three Sioux City Hy-Vees were named the Official Blue Zones Grocery Stores. The folks at Blue Zones and Hy-Vee want to slowly but surely change peoples habits. The stores are making small changes hoping they'll have a big impact on customers.

"I think walking into the store, you'd notice the Blue Zones signage. I think is going to be a big one. Those little tags highlighting those foods off the food list, I think that's one of the first things a lot of people notice as they're walking through the aisles," says Allison Rossow, the Dietician at the Southern Hills Hy-Vee.

And when you go to check out, Hy-Vee has ditched the candy bars and soda drinks for apples, oranges, bananas and H2O.

"That's what this is all about; it's about having, letting our customers know about the healthy options that are available and making them readily available up front and throughout the store," says Tom Daschel, Store Director for Hy-Vee.

"We've actually got to-go containers of fruits and vegetables, making it easy for people to grab and then we've also put how many servings of fruits are on some of those packages," says Rossow.

"They've been on board with the Blue Zones Project before we were actually named a demonstration site because of their connections in Des Moines and across the state so they were aware of the things that they should focus on in order to be designated," says Sue Brown, with Blue Zones.

But these small changes aren't just happening inside the store. Hy-Vee is designating parking spots at the end of the lot as Blue Zones Spots, encouraging people to walk a little further.

And think of it this way, you won't have to fight other drivers for the closest spot.

In fact, Blue Zones is big on walking, which is another reason why it's considering adding parklets. They are wooden platforms with fencing that fit neatly into a parking spot giving restaurants and businesses outside space and allowing for a more walkable and inviting environment. The parklets made their debut in Eastern Iowa.

"I do think that it's a great option especially for summertime, people like to be outdoors dining outdoors, it's a great healthy option. So I think whether its down on Historic 4th Street or other locations, I think the restaurants will consider doing something like that," says Brown. "I know it's been really successful in the areas where they've tried it."

Blue Zones, which is an initiative to help make Iowans healthier, would first need to talk with the city about using the parking lots and how to buy and build the parklets.