The Northgate Gonzalez Markets supermarket chain has done a lot to create a healthy environment in their stores. Northgate is a Latin-focused chain of stores that has served the community for more than 30 years. They have worked with local public health groups since 2015 and have done many projects to promote health. Northgate offers a checkout lane with healthy snacks and drinks. Stores also serve healthy foods in its Healthy Cocina. Healthy Cocina is a restaurant that serves both customers and workers. The store wanted to make even more healthy changes. They did this by making a Healthy Meeting Policy for all of its stores and offices.
Foods and drinks high in salt, fat, and sugars were often served at company meetings. Meetings usually didn't have fresh fruits, vegetables, or other healthy choices. An assessment of the corporate and in-store meetings of Northgate Gonzalez Markets conformed that, like many worksites, the supermarket chain did not offer many fresh foods or healthy choices at their meetings.
Northgate Markets partnered with Live Well @ Work, a project of Live Well San Diego. They adopted a Healthy Meeting Policy for all of its stores in three Southern CA counties:
- San Diego
- Los Angeles
The objective of the policy was to make employee meetings healthier. The meetings would promote healthy foods and beverages. This project reached over 4,000 Northgate employees in all 41 Tri-County area stores.
The following key partners worked together:
- County of San Diego Public Health Department’s Healthy Works Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Program
- University of California, San Diego Center for Community Health
These groups established a Tri-County Worksite Coalition. The purpose of the Coalition was to
- share best practices and resources
- work together on effective policy, system and environmental change strategies
- recruit additional businesses in the area to make healthy changes to their worksites
The Coalition worked with Northgate to create the Healthy Meeting Policy. They also developed a plan to put the policy in place. This plan included a Sample Healthy Meeting Policy, healthy menu guidelines, meal options for meetings and events, and tools to track and evaluate the policy. The Coalition took extra steps to make it simple and easy to use the Healthy Meeting Policy.
- worked with a nutrition expert to define “healthy” foods and drinks
- designed a policy pledge in English and Spanish for breakrooms to increase awareness
- conducted manager trainings on the sample menus and policy
- helped to design an incentive raffle to get buy-in from the stores
The Coalition's goal is that the Healthy Meeting Policy will thrive and grow. The Coalition wants other businesses across the region to adopt similar Policies. Since starting the Healthy Meeting Policy, the Coalition has discussed its next steps. The Los Angeles Public Health Department developed a Healthy Meeting Policy Technical Assistance Checklist. Store managers at Northgate will use this checklist to maintain the policy as they move forward. Future plans include an evaluation of the policy.
Stories from the Field
The California Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) aims to inspire and empower underserved Californians to improve their health and the health of their communities through healthy eating and active living. The program facilitates this through education and community change in partnership with many others.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) shares this story to highlight a snapshot of some of the California SNAP-Ed work conducted by local health departments and partners across this Golden State.
CDPH funds local health departments, 57 county and three city health departments, to conduct SNAP-funded obesity prevention programming across the state. The UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program, California Department of Aging, and Catholic Charities of
California, Inc. also fund local agencies to conduct programs that align with the California SNAP-Ed mission. The California Department of Social Services oversees the collective California SNAP-Ed work.
Expanding our Reach
We hope these community stories inspire you to envision how to create a healthier tomorrow!
This article was submitted by the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch of the California Department of Public Health, a SNAP-Ed Implementing Agency. For more information, please contact Lindsay Riedel.