Businesses named ‘WellSpots’

Three Louisiana businesses became the first state-designated “WellSpots” on Tuesday, recognized for their efforts to encourage healthy behavior.

The Department of Health and Hospitals gave the designation to Mestizo Restaurant and Mid-City Market, both in Baton Rouge; and AmeriHealth Caritas, an insurance company with Medicaid clients. The recipients get signs that they can display promoting their status.

The Jindal administration embarked on the Well-Ahead Louisiana initiative in April. As part of it, employers, schools, health care providers, universities, child care centers and restaurants can be recognized for promoting health and wellness among their customers and employees by becoming WellSpots. Program participation is voluntary.

All WellSpots must be tobacco-free. Depending on the type of business, they must meet additional criteria.

Mestizo’s earned the designation by training its staff to offer healthy dining options, offering healthy menu options and accommodating dietary restrictions.

Jim Urdiales, CEO of Mestizo’s, said some customers want healthier dining options.

Mid-City Market offers at least three healthy entree options on its menu, accommodates patrons with dietary restrictions and offers a course so employees have an understanding about food allergies.

“If you give people a choice, something a little healthier, they will take it,” said Don Bergeron, owner of Mid-City.

AmeriHealth Caritas implemented a worksite wellness program for its employees, supports breast-feeding mothers and offers tobacco cessation support.

All are 100 percent tobacco free and promote good health policies such as drinking water or low-fat milk instead of sugar-sweetened drinks and eating five fruits and vegetables daily.