When Maple Leaf Farms’ facility took over the space occupied by an old elementary school in the small town of Leesburg, the building was nearly entirely gutted and changed, but one room remained the same: the gymnasium.
With the on-site gym and fitness center already in place and remodeled, Bob Christy, benefits manager, began to set forth a competitive wellness plan with a little help from the Indiana Chamber.
Chuck Gillespie, executive director of the Wellness Council of Indiana, provided a wellness consultation to Maple Lead Farms to help the company determine how to move forward with its wellness program and answered questions from employees.
“I would highly recommend the consultation,” Christy asserts. “I think it should be a requirement. You need to do it once a year and have somebody (from the Council) talk to your whole group.”
For the past year and a half, Christy says Maple Leaf Farms has done “everything from poker walks to health challenges to biometric screenings.” The business’ efforts have earned it a Three-Star AchieveWELL certification from the Wellness Council of Indiana.
“When I started, (it took about the first year) to get most of the health programs set up,” Christy says. “Before that, the wellness program was kind of nonexistent. I spoke at the first annual meeting on portions … and that’s when I really got started.”
A wellness program that once was “nonexistent” now even has its own jackets – emblazoned with the words “Wellness Protection Program” and a picture of a duck, a very important symbol for the company.
Maple Leaf Farms is a family-owned business that raises and processes ducks; today it boasts 17 locations. The wellness plan now extends to all employees, regardless of their whereabouts, and each year, Christy spends two weeks on the road encouraging employees to complete biometric screenings and the Anthem health assessment.
Because Maple Leaf Farms leads the nation in the duck market, it often works with a lot of celebrity chefs and cooking initiatives. With its large kitchen and focus on healthy eating, Christy saw an opportunity to promote healthy eating through lunch-and-learns or quick dinners, meal prep demonstrations, vending machines with nutritious options and the upcoming fresh fruits on Fridays.
“We’re trying to do ‘Fruitful Friday,’” Christy explains. “We eat so much food here because there are always things going on in the kitchen.”
The wellness program continues to grow, with presentations from nutritionists and dieticians, new partnerships with the Warsaw YMCA and the potential of on-site chair massages. Maple Leaf Farm’s partnership with the Chamber and its attendance at Chamber conferences has improved its offerings for employees.
“The biggest thing with this (Chamber) membership is the resources that they have,” Christy says. “It’s some of the best you can get. It’s in Indiana, and it’s about Indiana. These people all work here just like us, and we deal with the same laws, the same tax codes, the same everything. It is about Indiana.