New project makes access to fresh, healthy food easy

Thursday, 23 February 2012
Residents in the Llanhilleth ward of Blaenau Gwent will now have better access to fresh fruit and vegetables thanks to a new project being launched.
 Healthy Retail Launch
The Healthy Retail Scheme will see three shops in Brynithel, Swffryd and Llanhilleth stock fresh fruit and vegetables sold at competitive prices.
As part of the scheme, Brynithel Convenience Store will be selling fruit and vegetables for the first time. The other two stores – NISA store in Swffryd and Llanhilleth Stores– will be increasing the range of fruit and vegetables on offer to local customers.
Promotional stands have been provided with the Change4Life branding which will give more prominence to the stock within the three stores.
To coincide with the launch of the scheme a range of community activities have been organised to raise awareness of the importance of eating and cooking healthily.
A cookery demonstration is being held in Swffryd Community Centre to show parents and members of the community how to use the fresh produce on sale to make healthy family meals. Goodie bags with ingredients and recipes for the vegetable soup will be provided to all who attend the cookery demonstration.
The two local primary schools have also been involved with launch of the scheme. Children from Soffryd Primary School and St Illtyd’s primary school entered a competition to design a healthy lunchbox and have learnt about healthy eating in school assemblies from ‘Fit Fred’ the school meals mascot.
Dr Gill Richardson, Director of Public Health for Aneurin Bevan Health Board said, “Having local shops stock healthy fruit and vegetables will make it even easier for the local community to eat and cook more healthily.
“We already have some excellent food co-operatives in the area and so this scheme increases local access to fresh, healthy food.”
Commenting on the activities surrounding the launch she said; “It is really great to get people of all ages involved in learning about healthy eating so they can see how easy it can be to include fruit and vegetables in your daily diet. Eating more vegetables and fresh fruit helps protect us from some forms of heart disease, diabetes and cancers.”  
The Healthy Retail Scheme is being run by a partnership of organisations including St Illtyds Communities First, Public Health Wales, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, Brynithel Flying Start, and the Rural Regeneration Unit and Appetite for Life from the Welsh Government.
The scheme is being officially launched by the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Tony Jewell and Dr Gill Richardson, Director of Public Health for Aneurin Bevan Health Board at Llanhilleth Miners Institute.
"Even though we’re living longer, a large proportion of that life may be affected by illness or disease. 
"Obesity is a major contributor in the risk behaviour known to have a negative effect on health. We need to ensure the availability and promotion to the public of a range of opportunities to support children, young people and adults in achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight without the need to access specific health services.
"This aim needs to be backed by the provision of a supportive environment, and programmes like the Health Retail Scheme are a positive step in the right direction."
Anna Chard, St Illtyds Communities First Co-ordinator said; “We are very excited at the opportunity to enable the community to access fresh affordable produce locally.” 
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