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HONOLULU — Aloha Petroleum Ltd. became the first retail business in Hawaii to adopt the Department of Health's Choose Healthy Now project. The initiative increases consumer access to healthy food and beverages by labeling healthier items at the point-of-decision.
To kick off the project on Monday, Hawaii First Lady Dawn Ige honored Aloha during a special event, after which a taste test of the healthy items that will be available at Aloha convenience stores took place.
"In today's society, convenience foods are often the unhealthy ones. It's nice to see a business taking a stand to actively promote and make healthier options accessible," stated Ige. "We encourage other Hawaii businesses to join us in this effort."
Aloha is piloting the Choose Healthy Now program at its Aloha Island Mart Kahala and Waianae locations, with plans to eventually expand to stores statewide. The pilot stores currently offer a green ("Go!") section of 17 healthy items.
"We are very pleased to partner with the First Lady and the Department of Health on this initiative," said Aloha Petroleum President and CEO Richard Parry. "One of our key goals is to provide healthy options for our customers, and to demonstrate to them that you can buy healthy items in a convenience store. Choose Healthy Now will make it that much easier for our customers to make good choices."
Choose Healthy Now began as a partnership between the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services' Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Ho'opono Vending Program. It launched in May 2014 with six snack shops in state and federal government buildings on Oahu, and will expand to an additional 12 sites by January 2016.
Ho'opono vendors label all food and beverage items as healthy, moderately healthy or less healthy with green ("Go!"), yellow ("Slow") and red ("Uh-oh") stickers, respectively.
Aloha will promote the healthiest green items in its stores and use written materials, posters and other resources to inform customers of their options. The company expects its adoption of Choose Healthy Now to simplify and facilitate healthier food and beverage choices.
"This program is about giving people better access to healthier options," stated Director of Health Dr. Virginia Pressler. "With rising obesity and chronic disease rates and skyrocketing health care costs to match, we need to work together to make the healthy choice the easiest, most-appealing choice. For people making lifestyle changes, the convenience of these labeled healthy food options can make the difference for staying on track."