Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Healthways, Inc. (NASDAQ: HWAY), and Blue Zones, LLC, today announced that Fairfield, Iowa, has been named a certified Blue Zones Community®. Certification recognizes Fairfield’s community transformation through successful implementation of the Blue Zones Project®, a first-of-its-kind population health program that brings the world’s best practices in food policy, built environment, purpose and social networking to participating cities.
Brought to Iowa through an innovative sponsorship by Wellmark in collaboration with Healthways and Blue Zones, the Blue Zones Project initiative encourages all Iowa communities to optimize their surroundings to make the healthy choice the easy choice.
The Blue Zones Project is the centerpiece of Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative, a privately led, publicly endorsed initiative intended to inspire Iowans and communities throughout the state to boost well-being.
Community leaders, volunteers and organizations throughout Fairfield have been working to achieve certification status since October 2012, when the community was named a Blue Zones Project demonstration site. As a result of its efforts, Fairfield can celebrate the following outcomes:
- The 16-mile trail system circling the city has continued to expand with tree plantings and the addition of a pedestrian and cycling bridge. Daily usage of the trail increased by 180 users.
- Brain Breaks, Brain Button, Brain Gym, Pound and a Walking School Bus, all programs focusing on physical movement, are getting nearly 1,000 students moving. In addition, more than 130 students participated in the Farm to School program, helping to grow 1,000 tomato and pepper plants.
- Designated worksites in Fairfield have led by example. A remodel of Iowa State Bank’s fitness facility doubled usage. Agri-Industrial Plastics reports tobacco usage dropping from 33 percent to 18 percent following adoption of a tobacco-free campus policy.
- Local restaurant Crepe Escape offers crepes in small sizes to those who prefer a smaller portion. The half-sized sandwich option at Yummy’s makes up more than half of all sandwich sales. Revelations Café now offers fresh fruit as the default side dish. Local grocery stores created Blue Zones checkout lanes, promote Blue Zones foods in end-cap displays, created Blue Zones parking spaces, and designated space in shopping carts for fruits and vegetables. Hy-Vee is increasing shelf space for water by 50 percent.
Fairfield achieved Blue Zones Community status after reaching the following key milestones, all of which are required improvement goals for Blue Zones Project demonstration communities to receive certification:
- Fifty percent of the top 20 identified worksites became designated Blue Zones Worksites®.
- Twenty-five percent of schools became designated Blue Zones Schools®.
- Twenty-five percent of restaurants became designated Blue Zones Restaurants.
- Twenty-five percent of grocery stores became designated Blue Zones Grocery Stores®.
- Twenty percent of citizens have committed to the Blue Zones Project and completed at least one well-being improvement action.
The community has completed the Blue Zones Community Policy® bundle. Fifteen Iowa communities, including Oskaloosa, are currently part of Blue Zones Project and are positively influencing statewide well-being to date, as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. For more information, please visit www.bluezonesproject.com