In 2018 Giant Food made the commitment to launch a neighborhood health improvement program in Ward 8 of Washington, DC. As the district’s community with the highest rates of poverty, paired with the highest rates of chronic disease, there was real opportunity to change the trajectory by implementing a strong food-driven wellness initiative. As the sole grocery store in the Ward, serving 80,000+ residents, it was Giant Food’s responsibility to play an active role in preventing the escalation of poor health outcomes. With the guidance of community members, local leaders and our team of licensed nutritionist, we made it our goal to focus on 3 areas: Improving knowledge of the connection between food and health, increasing ways to make nutrient dense foods more affordable, and making access to healthy food easier for the entire community. In 2019, Giant Food opened it’s new in-store Wellness Space, hired a registered dietitian nutritionist committed to the store and the surrounding community, launched a Produce Rx program, and funded a mobile grocery program for low-access areas in the Ward.
Giant food has invested $2.4 million, over a three-to-five-year period, in improving health outcomes in Ward 8. With the opening of the Congress Heights Wellness Space in 2019, the community now has access to classes covering a variety of topics: nutrition, fitness, cooking, stress management, financial literacy, as well as programs identified specifically to target the community's greatest wellness concerns. In the first year of the program there were over 3K nutrition interactions and more than 15 new community partnerships developed by Jillian Griffith, the dedicated In-Store Nutritionist. As a culmination of these efforts, Giant Food welcomed the Ward 8 community and all it’s partners for a day of celebration and education in October, known as the Great Ward 8 Fall Fest. Attendees received goodie bags filled with featured fall foods, recipe inspiration and kitchen tools. They were also able to go booth-to-booth to learn about other community and heath resources, get active in the Fitness Zone, paint faces or gourds with the local community museum staff, and participate in healthy cooking demos on the main stage with Jillian and the Ward 8 councilmember.
Improving Knowledge - Personalized nutrition education, provided by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, nutritionist tips throughout the store to help guide healthier selections, heathier endcap to improve purchasing behavior, budget friendly recipe cards for inspiration, and a digital board to provide healthy tips to raise awareness of wellness programing. Improving Affordability - In March 2019, Produce Rx was launched in partnership with DC Greens, DC Department of Health, and Amerihealth Caritas. This program enables medical professionals to write prescriptions for fresh produce to patients experiencing food insecurity and living with diabetes, pre-diabetes or hypertension. To coordinate, monthly classes were initiated to further educate customers on how to stretch their food dollars. Improving Access- Working with the Capital Area Food Bank, a mobile grocery truck was launched to visit nine locations weekly in Ward 8 that have limited access to healthy foods. The truck accepts cash, credit and SNAP.
Since inception we have seen a clear positive shift in customer shopping preferences and consistent growth across the key metrics we track for our Ward 8 initiatives. The success of the programming has encouraged the brand to maintain these critical programs and potentially increase support in this community and other targeted areas across our region. Our sales data indicate that customers have maintained elevated levels of healthy food in their baskets despite the current pandemic. Selected performance highlights for FY 2020: - Healthy food sales in the store is up 15% on average vs. the previous year - Monthly unit sales of healthy food per buyer has increased over 12% vs. the previous year - Penetration of healthy food among primary households shopping in the store has also grown over 10%
Giant Food has always valued its relationship with the communities we are so privileged to serve, because we understand the vital connection between our associates and the communities where we operate. We know investing in and fostering our community relationships helps us address larger issues and gives us a greater sense of purpose in our work and personal lives. We also know the families of our associates and customers thrive when our communities are healthy. We understand that some communities need more support than others in gaining access to affordable, healthy food and nutrition education to improve their health. That’s exactly why Giant is contributing talent, time, and resources to make a difference. Our partnership with Ward 8 is a key component of Giant’s Healthy Living Plan. Our vision is to promote health and sustainability in our communities, and we are willing to do the work to ensure this happens.