Blue Zones Projects approves first two worksites

Fort Worth-based Higginbotham has been named a Blue Zones Project Approved Worksite. The insurance company has long promoted a healthy workplace, including the installation of bikes for employees to ride around the campus. Left to right are Fort Worth Chamber President and CEO Bill Thornton, Leah Scoggins with Higginbotham, Blue Zones Project Vice President Suzanne Duda, Higginbotham President and CEO Rusty Reid, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, and Laura McWhorter with Texas Health Resources.

Two local employers, Higginbotham and Tarrant Area Food Bank, have been named Fort Worth’s first Blue Zones Project Approved worksites, joining a list of other approved organizations that include six restaurants and a grocery store as Blue Zones Project begins to take shape across the city.

Blue Zones Project is a community-led well-being improvement initiative aimed at making healthier choices easier for people who live, work and play in Fort Worth.

Higginbotham and TAFB earned the designation by completing the Blue Zones Project Worksites Pledge, and adopting a selection of best practices from a menu of 46 options.

Higginbotham is one of the largest independent insurance brokerage firms in the U.S. and employs 650 individuals in Fort Worth and throughout the state.

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To earn the Blue Zones Project designation, Higginbotham established an employee-led well-being advisory committee, hosted a workshop to help staffers connect with their personal purposes, and established a formal policy to support employee volunteer activities.

The firm also established employee walking routes on campus and designated a quiet space where workers can downshift. The company also provides annual on-site biometric screenings and health risk assessments, and employees have access to tobacco cessation, nutrition coaching and weight management programs.

“Blue Zones Project is an important partner in helping Fort Worth create a healthier community and we are excited to play a leadership role in this initiative,” said Rusty Reid, Higginbotham president and CEO. “The well-being of our employees is a top priority, and we hope we can set a good example for our clients and other area businesses.”

Tarrant Area Food Bank is the primary source of donated food for hunger-relief charities and feeding programs in 13 North Texas counties and employs 100 people.

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The nonproft, which has had an employee wellness program in place for more than 10 years, implemented healthy vending machines so that staff and volunteers have access to nutritious snacks at subsidized prices, promotes a walking group on the Trinity Trail behind its facility and conducts quarterly wellness challenges focused on eating healthy, staying active and reducing stress. TAFB also hosts an annual staff health fair featuring on-site biometric and vision screenings.

To date, six area restaurants – Juice Junkies, Righteous Foods, La Perla Negra, Grand Cru, HoYA Korean Kitchen and Z’s Café – and one grocer, Central Market, have been recognized as Blue Zones Project Approved.

More than 20 worksites are currently working toward approval.

As a Blue Zones Project Demonstration Site, Fort Worth is working in six key areas – worksites, schools, grocery stores, restaurants, individuals and community policy – to implement environmental changes that improve well-being. Once city-specific goals are met, Fort Worth will be certified as a Blue Zones Community.