Jefferson Country Store joins ‘Good Choice’ program

Published 3:25 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Jefferson Country Store will now offer healthy “Good Choice” food options in the community. Fresh fruit along with protein bars can now be purchased at the location. Pictured are Tammy Glass, Jefferson Country Store Co-owner Betsy Compton, Jefferson Country Store Co-owner Tony Luker, and Marengo County Extension Coordinator Pam Stenz.

The Jefferson Country Store will now offer healthy “Good Choice” food options in the community. Fresh fruit along with protein bars can now be purchased at the location. Pictured are Tammy Glass, Jefferson Country Store Co-owner Betsy Compton, Jefferson Country Store Co-owner Tony Luker, and Marengo County Extension Coordinator Pam Stenz.

The Jefferson Country Store has taken a large step in providing healthy eating choices for residents in the area and commuters through the small town on Highway 28 by joining the “Good Choice” heathy eating program.

The Marengo extension office through the Nutrition Education program (NEP) has partnered with the Alabama Department of public health to start in local, small community convenience stores a program called “Good Choice.”

Through the program the store owners agree to offer healthier snack choices for customers as they come in to the front of the store prominently placed in the store.

“We know a lot of people that come into convenience stores make impulse purchases, which why ask them to leave it at the front of the store so that while they’re checking out or walking in the first thing they see is a healthier option,” Tammy Glass, NEP agent with the county’s Extension office in Linden.

Owners receive a basket for fresh fruit and ice barrels to put fresh cut fruit or health food choice items.

“Our biggest push is fresh fruits; we want people to have access to fresh fruit where normally you might not be able to have that unless you went all the way in town to a grocery store or found a farmers’ market,” said Glass. “This way, all of these people in this small community have a place to go where they can pick fresh fruit; they can pick up an apple, orange or banana.”

Regular items are still available; the Jefferson Country Store is just adding healthier options.

“I’m excited because we have a lot of fresh grown fruits and vegetables grown right here in Jefferson, so it’ll be a win-win for us with buying stuff from the farmers and then having local produce that you know was raised right here and good quality,” said , Jefferson Country Store Co-owner Tony Luker. “I’m excited to get it kicked off and get everyone coming through to let them know we have it. If you ever want a snack, you don’t have to get chips, you can get something that tastes good and is healthy for you.”

They now have items that meet the 10-10-5 rule and means the item has less than 10 percent of daily value total of fat, 10 percent or less of daily value for carbohydrates or five percent more of daily value of either fiber, vitamin D, calcium, potassium, or iron. Also the items are 200 calories or less or have 230 milligrams of sodium or less.

Luker has agreed to carry products that fit that rule for his costumers to buy.
“It’s a big need, especially with all the truck drivers, and in this area people could eat better. I figure if we can help one way in having fresh fruit and good healthy choice snacks I thought it would be really good for the drivers,” Luker said. “Plus, I’m here all day and eating bad stuff so I figure if I can make some good healthy decision it’ll be a win-win.”

The store in Jefferson is the fifth in Marengo to start the Good Choices program including the good choice options in all of Rod Langley’s stores in Marengo.

Luker saw an article and stopped by a store in Linden and saw what the program was about there. From there Luker called and initiated the program for the Jefferson Country Store.

Glass said, “We are really excited about it because this is a relatively new program throughout the state and this county has more stores than anybody else in the state right now. We were the second county to have a Good Choice store at all.”

The store can now serve a need for the area in providing healthy eating choices and Luker believes that residents will take advantage of the new healthy options.

“I think once they know it’s here, I think they will. Instead of picking up a honey bun or a bag of chips, they can get some watermelon, blackberries, sliced kiwi or other heathy choice items like granola bars, breakfast protein bars, bottled water or string cheese. When it gets real hot, people don’t won’t a heavy meal, so a light snack or cold fruit will help,” said Luker.