‘Health on a Shelf’ begins in Tupelo

TUPELO – Last year, the Mayor’s Healthy Tupelo Task Force applied for a grant from Blue Cross & Blue Shield to be named the Healthiest Hometown in Mississippi.
And while the group was recognized with a $25,000 check for being a Healthy Hometown in Mississippi, it fell short of the top honor, which went to Hernando, along with a $50,000 check.
“One of the things we got dinged on was that our convenience stores didn’t have an area that was designated for healthy snacks or healthy food items,” said Hank Boerner, co-chairman of the task force.
So task force members got busy and came up with the idea for “Health on a Shelf,” a plan that would group healthy snacks and foods in one prominent display.
Next, they contacted convenience stores in Tupelo to see if anyone would be willing to serve as the pilot for the program.
And Johnny Robbins of Papa V’s stepped up.
“We told them, absolutely, we’d love to be involved,” said Robbins, who will roll out his “Health on a Shelf” displays Friday at his stores on East Main Street and Cliff Gookin Boulevard.
Items include fruit cups, yogurt parfaits, salads, and turkey and chicken sandwiches on whole wheat, as well as 28 snacks, such as granola bars, nuts, pretzels and baked chips, said Mary Davidson, assistant manager for Papa V’s.
“A few weeks ago, we made up some fruit cups and put them in a cooler just for a trial run,” Robbins said. “And I mean they sold out quickly. I definitely think there’s going to be a demand for this.”
Donna Loden, a task force member who led the committee that came up with the “Health on a Shelf” slogan as well as the logo – a guitar filled with fresh fruits and vegetables – said the idea of having several healthy food choices in convenience stores was a no-brainer.
Boerner said he expects this effort to have lasting effects.
“This is the biggest thing this task force has done to get people on the right track to healthier lifestyles,” he said. “Weight loss challenges and billboards and 5K races will come and go, but this is a long-term, year-round thing.”

Contact Ginna Parsons at (662) 678-1581 or ginna.parsons@journalinc.com.

Is this for you?
- If you’re a convenience store owner who is interested in taking part in the “Health on a Shelf” initiative, contact Hank Boerner at (662) 377-4142 or Donna Loden at (662) 377-2440.

Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal