Backus Hospital, ShopRite Partner on Healthy New Year

Norwich, CT – A new partnership between The William W. Backus Hospital and ShopRite supermarket in Norwich will connect people across the region to healthier eating. It tackles nutrition-related problems on the front lines: right in the supermarket aisles.
Backus Hospital and the local Shop Rite are partnering on Just Ask, a program to help those seeking to live healthier lives choose food with less salt and fat. 

The partnership, an expansion of Backus Hospital’s successful Just Ask program in local restaurants, will make it easier for Shop Rite customers to choose foods that are lower in salt and unhealthy fats when they shop in the deli, meat department and prepared food sections of the store.

The program will launch on January 4 – just in time to help people with their New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier. Just Ask signage will be posted throughout the store, reinforcing healthy habits. Employees in the deli, meat department and prepared food sections will help customers choose healthier foods.

Backus Hospital’s Community Health Needs Assessment ranks obesity as one of the region’s top health concerns, which has led to an array of community outreach efforts, including “Just Ask,” which was created after a cardiac support group patient complained that when eating out there were very few heart healthy options. Backus surveyed local restaurants, finding that healthy options were usually available – you just have to ask.
The Just Ask program began with restaurants, with more than 30 local establishments signing on in the Norwich and Willimantic areas.

In an effort to expand the program, Shop Rite was approached and agreed to be Backus Hospital’s exclusive Just Ask grocery partner, starting in Norwich. If successful, the program will be expanded to other Shop Rite locations and throughout Hartford HealthCare, which Backus is part of.

“The Just Ask program fits perfectly with Shop Rite’s focus on helping our customers live healthier lives,” said Ken Capano, owner of the Norwich store. “We are proud to partner with our local hospital, Backus, especially at a time when people have made New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier. We already have the healthy food options – this just helps bring more attention to them.”

ShopRite has been an innovator in the effort to improve the health of its communities, putting 130 of its own Registered Dieticians on staff in 23 locations. With the “Just Ask” program in Norwich, Backus specialists will join them to provide information, cooking demonstrations, screenings, grocery shopping tours and health-conscious seminars in the Shop-Rite pharmacy department.
“Backus Hospital’s mission is to improve the health of the community,” said Alice Facente, Backus Hospital’s Community Health Education Nurse. “But we can’t do it alone. Partners like ShopRite are critical if we are really going to move the dial on population health, beyond the walls of the hospital.”
The “Just Ask” program provides hands-on guidance, when and where consumers make some of their most important food decisions.
Now in the Norwich ShopRite, shoppers can “just ask” about healthier choices: lower-fat, lower-sodium, lower-calorie options or other questions about better nutrition. “Just Ask” signs throughout the store will raise customer awareness:
The program also helps in the fight against childhood obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. In a 2015 study of healthcare consumers, nutrition, physical activity and weight were the top-priority areas where people wanted more support.
 The partnership will reinforce Hartford HealthCare’s Connect to Healthier campaign, and will be promoted to patients in brochures, newsletters, in ShopRite circulars and online.
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