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Stores launch healthy eating scheme

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Zach Moniz, manager of Lindo’s Family Foods, and Jeanne Atherden, health minister

An islandwide initiative to make nutritious food more affordable will launch in supermarkets today.

Health experts have welcomed the “Saver the Flavour: Eat Well for Less” campaign, developed jointly by the Department of Health and retailers, which will see month-by-month price reductions on items such as fruits, vegetables, protein-rich meats, grains, pulses and dairy.

The continuing drive aims to improve residents’ health and finances, while also cutting the Bermuda Government’s healthcare bill by reducing obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension.

An adult will be able to buy a healthy food basket, based on a 2,205-calorie daily intake, for $60 per week, according to the Government.

“This has to be a good thing, that stores are cutting prices on healthy items,” said nutritional therapist Catherine Burns, who runs the Natural Ltd company in Hamilton.

“Studies have shown us that nutritional foods have to be cheaper and more accessible for people to actually make the change.”

Minister of Health and Seniors Jeanne Atherden said she was excited to unveil the new campaign.

“We want to show people that they can eat nutritious food and still save money,” she told The Royal Gazette, adding that both locally grown and imported goods would feature in the promotion.

“We’re trying to change people’s lifestyles, their patterns and their habits.”

Companies which have confirmed their participation are: MarketPlace, Supermart, Lindo’s, Arnold’s, Harrington Hundreds, Miles Market, Dunkley’s and Butterfield & Vallis. Each will tailor its offers to customers in collaboration with nutritionists from the Department of Health.

Selected items will be labelled with the campaign’s logo, and information leaflets will also be offered to explain the science behind their nutritional value. Shoppers will be advised to look out for the logo in weekly specials posted in the newspaper.

In a statement yesterday, Zach Moniz, Lindo’s manager, said: “The Bermuda Government and Lindo’s collaborated on this concept with the intention of highlighting items that promote healthy eating.

“Working with the government nutritionists, the programme will help our shoppers to make nutritious food choices at good value.”

Every month, Lindo’s will send a list of about 1,000 items that are on special to the nutritionists, who will select produce to feature in the programme based on nutrition value and cost.

The selected items will be put in a special in-store display at both Lindo’s in Devonshire and Warwick.

“We want to help our customers make healthy food choices and take advantage of our special offers. This programme combines the two,” Mr Moniz said. “It is also a way for shoppers to try new items that they might not normally buy.”

Virloy Lewin, the Department of Health’s promotion co-ordinator, told this newspaper: “We’re getting people to think differently about how they shop.

“But in asking people to change their behaviours, we have to create a supportive environment.”

As the initiative unfolds, it will also introduce elements such as public cooking demonstrations and healthy recipe sharing, while residents can offer their feedback by e-mailing healthpromotion@gov.bm.

A 2014 survey indicated that 75 per cent of Bermuda’s population is overweight or obese, with the prohibitively high cost of healthy groceries a commonly cited factor.

In January, The Royal Gazette reported how the price of general groceries had increased substantially in Bermuda over the past decade.

According to the latest Digest of Statistics, the cost of rice, cooking oil, butter, frozen beans, flour and vegetable soup all nearly doubled between 2005 and 2014.

Charitable organisations including Free Food Bermuda, The Salvation Army, Family Centre and Age Concern all reported increased demands on their services, as residents struggled to afford to feed themselves.

Sara McKittrick, a registered dietitian and educator for the Bermuda Diabetes Association, praised the “Saver the Flavour” campaign for attempting to redress the balance while focusing on nutritional value.

“The more information people have when they shop, the better their position to make healthier choices when they shop,” she said.

“An initiative like this, which helps people to eat real, unprocessed food, should make huge strides in helping people improve their health.”

Healthy food luanch: from left, Zach Moniz, general manager of Lindo’s, David Kendell, director, Department of Health, Gary Schuman, president of Marketplace and minister Jeanne Atherden