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Store promotes a candy-free check-out aisle

Mary Jo Brunner, dietitian at Family Fresh Market in New Richmond, stands in the "candy-free" aisle that was instituted in the grocery store in 2009.2 / 2

A banner hangs from the ceiling of Family Fresh Market in New Richmond inviting parents to enter one particular checkout lane.

Aisle #3 is the candy-free lane that has been offering families an alternative way to get their groceries without tempting the kids, or the adults, to grab an unhealthy snack on the way to the car.

Since opening as Family Fresh in 2009, the candy-free aisle has its fans, said Mary Jo Brunner, dietitian at the store.

"It's a place where moms and dads can go so they don't have to worry about their children picking out candy or asking for candy," she said. "And it gets people to think a little bit more about what impulse buys they're making."

Instead of candy, the special checkout lane offers such snacks as energy bars and nuts, and also displays items like lip balms, school supplies and hand wipes.

Brunner said the store hopes to add fresh produce (like bananas and apples) and healthy drinks (like 100 percent juice and single-serving milks) to the aisle to give customers some additional healthy snack choices.

"There is just so much potential to do this kind of thing," she said.

As part of Family Fresh's "Well Balanced" program, the candy-free aisle is just one way the local grocery store helps promote healthy food and snack choices, Brunner said.

The grocery store also offers cooking classes, weight-loss challenges, wellness programs and special nutritional signage.

"It's all part of our effort to educate consumers about making healthier choices," Brunner said.

Family Fresh is excited about the ongoing "Vitality Initiative" effort in New Richmond, noting that it takes a community effort to encourage people to eat better and live more active lives.