The local Healthy Checkout Aisle Campaign is holding a “Walk to Meijer – Okemos Store” on Saturday, August 25, 2018 at 10:00am (rain or shine). The purpose of the peaceful “Walk” is to ask Meijer to adopt the healthy checkout aisle concept in their stores. The walk is open to all interested individuals who would like to see Meijer offer more healthy food choices in their checkout aisles.
Meijer’s slogan is “Higher Standards, Lower Prices”, however when it comes to their checkout aisles, it is more like “Higher Sugar, Lower Nourishment”. Meijer’s website states that they offer “products and services to help our customers lead healthier lives” as a core value. Yet, Meijer’s checkout aisles do not reflect this. Stacked high next to the express checkout registers at Meijer grocery stores are 32-ounce cups, pushing a last-ditch sugar binge on shoppers. Studies show that checkout aisles are typically filled with unhealthy options like candy, energy bars, chips, cookies, and coolers of sugary drinks. This past July, the local Healthy Checkout Aisle Campaign along with their partners launched a grassroots effort to ask Meijer to adopt healthy checkout lanes in their stores. This summer, the local campaign conducted an assessment of the checkout aisles in six Meijer stores (3 in Grand Rapids and 3 in Lansing) to determine the types of items that were available for purchase. The data shows that less than 3% of the items in the checkout aisles were considered healthy (i.e. small packages of sunflower seeds or granola bars), but none offered fresh fruits or vegetables as an options.
Customer preferences are changing. According to a recent survey by Label Insight, 67% of Americans prioritize purchasing healthy food, and more than half of women are looking to reduce their sugar intake. So, in response to changing consumer preferences, retailers around the country are shifting the mix of checkout options in a healthier direction. Aldi announced a plan in 2016 to have healthy checkout aisles at is 1,500 stores by 2018; CVS also announced it would reduce shelf space for soda and unhealthy foods to make room for healthier foods and non-food items. Raley’s Supermarkets (located in California) offers a “Better for You” check stands in their 121 locations with plans to strengthen nutrition standards for these lanes in 2018. Our goal would be to work with our local grocery stores to start implementing these types of changes in their checkout lanes which will help to improve the overall health of our residents.
The local HCA Campaign is being organized by NorthWest Initiative along with several partner organizations and individuals including the Ingham County Health Department, Capital Area Food Council, Capital Area Health Alliance, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) based out of Washington, DC. Meijer was targeted because they are the 7th largest grocery store in the country with over 230 stores in six mid-western states (MI, IL, IN, OH, WS, and KY). Everyone in Michigan has shopped at a Meijer store at some point!
NorthWest Initiative is a local nonprofit community development organization who has been working to improve the overall health of the community and quality of life for lower income residents since 2000. They provide a variety of programs and resources for low to moderate income residents living in the downtown, north side, and westside areas of Lansing and Lansing Township (www.nwlansing.org). For questions or further information, contact Peggy Vaughn-Payne at 517-999-2894 (office) or 517-885-0659 (cell).