Spencer, IA becomes 1st Blue Zones certified community in the st - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Spencer, IA becomes 1st Blue Zones certified community in the state

Spencer, IA becomes 1st Blue Zones certified community in the state

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SPENCER, Iowa (KTIV) -

Communities across the Hawkeye State are trading in lazy lifestyles for healthier habits.  It's all part of the Blue Zones campaign for a healthier Iowa.

Last year, folks in Spencer, Iowa took the pledge.  Tuesday night, they marked a major milestone in their efforts to go blue.

As about 150 business members gathered at Bogenrief Studios to kick off the holidays at their annual “business after hours,” they heard the exciting announcement

"Spencer is the 1st certified Blue Zones community in Iowa," Scott Kroyen, a vice president at Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, told the cheering crowd.

It took just 18 months for the city of Spencer to meet the criteria.

Cammy Hinkeldey is one half of the team that brought the Blue Zones to Spencer.

“We all rolled up our sleeves and they really dug in, and that's what we needed. We needed the support and that's what happened,” she said in reaction to the announcement,” said Hinkeldey.

To reach this achievement, ten of the town's businesses had to be designated Blue Zones work sites, as well as 25% of the schools, restaurants, and grocery stores. As community gardens sprouted up in Spencer, the grocery stores moved healthy food to the check-out lanes. The city also budgeted $200,000 for new sidewalks, and the town's fire fighters lost 130 pounds.

Deb Muller lost 35 pounds by applying the project's principles to her own life.

"We got into walking on lunch hour, and offering healthy snacks at work, and I thought I could do where you eat 80% and you leave 20% on your plate,” she explained

A community effort that's demonstrating the success of making the healthy choice the easy choice.

"We've heard all kinds of rumors how this was not a fun thing to do, and this was not in the best interest of Spencer. Thank you Spencer for getting behind this, thank you to the community,” said Spencer Mayor Reynold Peterson.

One-hundred volunteers have been trained to keep these programs going."

Spencer reports a 20% drop in the city workers' health insurance claims since Blue Zones started.

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