In more than 140 stores across six states, ShopRite and RWJBarnabas Health have launched a wellness education program geared toward educating children and their families about nutrition.
KidsFit at ShopRite combines the collective visions, expertise and geographic reach of both organizations to create what the companies call a “powerful impact,” with the primary goal being to prevent childhood obesity.
“Informing about health and wellness is one of our core opportunities at ShopRite,” said Natalie Menza-Crowe, MS, RD and director of health at ShopRite. “Although we service customers across all demographics and ages, we focus on children because there is a huge opportunity at that point to influence them and teach them at a young age about healthy habits and promote a lifetime of hopefully healthier eating. It’s not our only focus area, but it’s something that we’re very passionate about doing.”
“We’ve always had a really strong partnership with RWJBarnabas, but this program was specifically developed by them as an in-school curriculum,” Menza-Crowe added.
While the original incarnation of the six-installment course was designed as a classroom-based event, Menza-Crowe and her team saw an “excellent opportunity” for ShopRite to adapt the program so that it could take advantage of a grocery store’s unique resources.
Kids attending the free classes partake in an in-store scavenger hunt, learn to cook their own meals, and acquire nutrition and wellness tips. Attendees also walk away with giveaways and recipes so that they can continue the experience at home. The company’s team of in-store registered dietitian’s leads the ShopRite version.
Parents typically attend the classes with their children, a scenario that is preferred but not required.
“We always encourage the parents to be part of any learning experience for kids because any time there’s an opportunity for that, there is a higher chance of what’s taught being mirrored at home,” Menza-Crowe said.
The program is open to children ages 7 to 10 and their families. It currently takes place in ShopRite stores throughout New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
“Health and wellness is something that we take seriously,” Menza-Crowe said. “It’s a part of every store opening and every store remodel. It’s why we have over 140 stores today with a dietitian, and that number is growing.”
There are currently more than 270 ShopRite locations, each of which is on or near the East Coast. The company reports serving in excess of six million customers per week.