So, what exactly is Blue Zones Project, you might ask?

(Submitted photo) The Benison Center, the non-profit organization that donates personal care items, diapers, cleaning supplies, and housewares to other non-profit agencies, churches and schools, became a Blue Zones Project recognized organization in 2018.

Whether you’ve heard of Blue Zones Project yet or not, the communities of Immokalee and Ave Maria have been actively participating for more than two years now.


Blue Zones Project is a community-wide initiative that is focused on one goal: improving the health and wellness of individuals across Southwest Florida. Based on National Geographic research that found places around the world where people are living the longest and healthiest, Blue Zones Project SWFL uses the lessons learned from those cultures and works to implement them locally. Due to a sponsorship by NCH Healthcare System, all the events, activities, presentations, etc. that Blue Zones Project offers are completely free. So, if you want to come to any of our events, you can participate at no cost!

Blue Zones Project has grown in Immokalee and Ave Maria over the past two years with many organizations adopting healthy practices. Benison Center, the non-profit organization that donates personal care items, diapers, cleaning supplies, and housewares to other non-profit agencies, churches and schools, became a Blue Zones Project recognized organization in 2018. Benison Center achieved this status by becoming a tobacco-free workplace, discouraging the consumption of sodas and sugary beverages, and offering volunteer opportunities within their organization (volunteering has been shown to increase well-being and life expectancy.) In addition, LeGrand Caribbean Market participated in a Blue Zones Project market makeover after Hurricane Irma hit in 2017. By doing this, they moved their fresh produce and water from the back of the store to the front, are selling a smaller quantity of sodas, and offer more whole grain and dried bean food products. Owner Franck LeGrand stated, “We want to make the healthy choice easier. I’ve lost more than 100 lbs. in the last three years, and people notice. I want to be an example for my friends and family, and for the community at large.”

In addition to Benison Center and LeGrand Caribbean Market, there are other organizations that have implemented healthier practices for their employees, members and students. You can refer to the list below:

David Lawrence Center
Guadalupe Center
Rotary Club of Immokalee
Immokalee Technical College
Lake Trafford Elementary School
Pinecrest Elementary School
Boys and Girls Club of Collier County- Immokalee
Healthcare Network of SWFL
The Immokalee Foundation
Del Webb Naples Community
Florida Department of Health in Collier County
Arthrex

Any organization in Immokalee and Ave Maria is welcome to get involved! We work with schools, small businesses, non-profit organizations, faith-based organizations, neighborhoods, restaurants, grocery stores, and more. If you would like to learn more about how to get involved, please reach out at BlueZonesProjectSWFL@Sharecare.com or call 239.624.2312.

The Immokalee Bulletin is published every Thursday.

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