Aloha: Committed to Raising Healthier Keiki (Children) in Hawaii

Aloha Petroleum, one of the largest gasoline marketers and convenience store operators in Hawaii, takes its commitment to PHA and to improving kids’ health seriously. So seriously, it was the first convenience store operator to join PHA’s Sustaining Partner program, promising an annual $5,000 contribution to support PHA’s overall mission, in addition to making changes to promote healthier food and beverages to its customers. As a result of its commitment to PHA, Aloha has made fresh-cut fruits and other nutritious products more visible to customers, increasing sales by more than five percent.

“We’re a state with a very high rate of diabetes,” said Aloha’s Food Service Category Manager Stacie Tanonaka, who added that concern for the health of local residents and their children prompted the company to join forces not just with PHA, but also with a statewide initiative called Choose Healthy Now. Both of these commitments have the company offering and promoting healthier food and beverage items in its 54 Aloha Island Mart convenience stores.

“The company as a whole believes in these programs,” she said. “Our stores are community-based; we’re not in the tourist areas. Our customers come in on a regular basis. We’re committed at the store level to keeping healthier items on our shelves and to promoting healthier items. We’re trying to increase awareness that childhood obesity is a huge problem.”

That’s why Aloha isn’t just moving products like fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, whole-grain sandwiches and low-fat yogurt to deli cases at the front of its stores, where customers can’t miss them. It isn’t just restricting those cases to healthy items (no desserts allowed!) and making sure anything designated as “healthier” meets strict nutrition guidelines. It isn’t just advertising bananas outside the store at the gas pump or granola bars in its monthly promotional flyers. And it isn’t just tagging healthier items so consumers can recognize them as better choices.

Aloha is doing all of these things and more. For example, Aloha runs an annual two-month cause marketing campaign, asking customers to donate $1 to PHA at the register. In 2018, it tripled donations from the previous year to raise more than $10,000 – twice its goal.

Donations aren’t all that have increased since Aloha began making changes. Customers are spending more on healthier foods and beverages than they were before, and vendors are likewise catching on to the trend.

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