Restaurants Take Vitality City Pledge

Healthy living becomes focus of some local eateries under the Vitality City program.

Over the next two years, the three Beach Cities—Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo—will see a number of changes in the community aimed at improving residents’ lives under the Vitality City initiative, a health improvement project.

The latest of these changes already has hit some local restaurants.

The national Vitality City project, organized by the well-being companies Healthways and Blue Zones, focuses on promoting healthier lifestyles and longer life expectancy within communities through activities and awareness.

Last year Healthways and Blue Zones selected the Beach Cities to participate in the Vitality City project, and the public agency Beach Cities Health District approved the program.

Healthways is contributing $3.5 million to the project while the Beach Cities Health District has provided $1.8 million, Susan Burden, chief executive officer of the health district, told Patch in March.

Now as part of the program, several Beach Cities restaurants have taken the "restaurant pledge" to become Blue Zone-certified establishments and join the Vitality City movement.

A Blue Zone certification means the restaurant has been given the Vitality City stamp of approval to offer healthier menu options, nutrition labeling on menus, and healthy fruit and vegetable side dishes among other things.

In Hermosa Beach, Cris and Carolyn Bennett have owned  restaurant for more than 30 years. Once Cris heard about the Vitality City initiative, he made it a point to be one of the first restaurant proprietors to take the pledge.

"We decided this was the perfect marriage for us to be involved with Vitality City," Cris said. "And the more I learned about it, with the process and the attitudes, it’s not just being healthy and eating better, it’s about a better state of mind."

In the short time that Good Stuff has been a part of the initiative, Cris told Patch that not only have his employees become enthused about the project, but his customers have too.

"You come in and order a sandwich, and instead of our servers offering fries, they’re trained now to point out the veggies and the healthier options that we have," Cris said. "We’re trying to push these healthy steamed veggies and now, everybody is ordering them."

Alex Jordan, 11-year owner of  restaurant in neighboring Redondo Beach, is in the process of becoming certified under the Vitality City project.

"I just think having healthy options is a good thing," Jordan said. "We’ve been doing it for about five years, where we came out with an entirely healthy section on our menu. You have to give people choices and let them make better choices."

As of Friday, the restaurants in the Beach Cities that have become certified are:

  •  in Manhattan Beach
  •  in Redondo Beach
  •  in Hermosa Beach
  •  in Redondo Beach
  • The Original Rinaldis in Manhattan Beach
  •  in Manhattan Beach
  •  in Hermosa Beach
  •  in Hermosa Beach
  • Sloopy's Beach Cafe in Manhattan Beach

Restaurants that have taken the Vitality City pledge are:

  •  in Hermosa Beach
  • Aimee's Bistro in Redondo Beach
  •  in Manhattan Beach
  •  in Manhattan Beach
  •  in Redondo Beach
  •  in Manhattan Beach
  • Los Muchachos in Hermosa Beach
  • Oceana Bistro Café in Manhattan Beach
  • Pedone's Pizza in Hermosa Beach
  • Silverado Senior Restaurant in Redondo Beach
  • Splash/Crowne Plaza in Redondo Beach
  •  in Manhattan Beach
  •  in Redondo Beach
  •  in Manhattan Beach
  •  in Redondo Beach

Dr. Lisa Santora, Beach Cities Health District chief medical officer, helped spearhead the move to bring the Vitality City initiative to the Beach Cities.

The Vitality City initiative first debuted in 2008 with a pilot project in Albert Lea, MN. Participating residents reportedly lost an average of two pounds, increased their average life expectancy by 2.9 years, and saw a substantial drop in key employers absenteeism.

In addition, the Vitality City initiative, through different tracking methods, has been designed specifically for the community it will inhabit. Specific statistical results are tracked throughout Vitality City's three-year process.

"One of our challenges has been trying to reach out to adults who live in the Beach Cities," Santora said. "The adults are very busy. They’re often commuting to downtown L.A., or they’re moving their children around; we’ve been calling them ‘moving targets.’ "

The Vitality City initiative aims to reach the community’s adult population and encourage healthy behavior to become commonplace rather than a day-to-day decision, Santora said. 

Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey of residents has shown reported high levels of stress and obesity in the local community.

"Every community is different," said Veronica Flores, the Vitality City manager for the Beach Cities. "What's really great about this initiative is that we didn't just assume the national data or the L.A. County data around obesity or stress or anything. We used our Gallup index to really do a sampling of the Beach Cities and came up with what are the real concerns in these cities regarding well-being."

Then investments made to address health concerns under the Vitality City project will be measured from year to year, Santora said. "For us as a community, it’s a huge resource because we’ve never had locale-specific details about the residents," she said.

When the Vitality City initiative ends in three years, the Beach Cities Health District plans to continue the programs created under the project.

"Healthways Vitality City will step away but the entire process will remain. The reason that we came in and found a great partner in the Beach Cities Health District was so that as we develop this strategy and incorporate this lifestyle into the community, the Beach Cities Health District will keep it going," Flores said.


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