Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Mon, April 06

Reservation stores hope to promote healthier food items

WINDOW ROCK - Representatives from the Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project and Center for Human Nutrition at the Johns Hopkins University are working with Bashas and other food stores on the Navajo Nation to put more healthy food items on their shelves where they can be more visible for Navajo consumers as soon as September 2007 as part of a Healthy Stores Project.

A two-day workshop was held at the Navajo Nation Museum and Library on Jan. 17-18, which brought together people interested in improving the nutritional health of residents on the Navajo Nation.  The five-planned workshops across the Navajo Nation were completed in April, but a number of people and agencies who were not represented in the first round of workshops requested that additional workshops be held. The second round of workshops will be completed in July, according to Joel Gittelsohn, Lead Investigator of the Healthy Stores work.

"We are drafting intervention materials, and getting Navajo Internal Review Board approval for materials as we go.  This will take two to three months before all materials are ready and approved for use," Gittelsohn said.  "Baseline data collection to evaluate the program is planned from mid-June through August 2007.  We now anticipate the program will begin September 2007."

Gittelsohn said that as of right now Bashas is the only major grocery store that is involved in the healthy stores program, but the Healthy Stores Project Team is meeting with local stores to involve them in the project.  Navajo participants expressed concern that other stores, including the small gas stations and convenient stores become involve with providing healthy food items on their shelves.

Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project enthusiastically supports and is an active partner on the project.

"It has always been a major concern for our project to encourage healthy and nutritional food for our Navajo people," stated Robert Nakai, Program Supervisor, Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project.  "I'm very elated to see that Bashas is taking a large role and is the leading supporter of the ... Healthy Stores. I am hopeful that other grocery stores will join this project so that healthy foods will be promoted to improve the health of all Navajo people."

A recent study was conducted by Johns Hopkins University of grocery stores throughout the Navajo Nation and border towns.  The result was shared with the participants and it showed the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in most of the stores on the reservation.  Fast food items such as warm-up sandwiches, trans fat and sugar laced foods, and soda pop products were major items readily available in most stores.

The healthy stores program hopes to work with local stores in promoting certain healthy items.  These food items will be placed in more prominent areas in the stores with promotional signs that have encouraging language for consumers to buy those healthy food items.

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