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Tuesday, Feb 7, 2023
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Scripps Adds Food Firm’s Selections to Its Wellness Recipe

FITZEE FOODS INC.

President/CEO: Michelle Weinstein.

Revenue: Trailing 12-month revenue is $831,000.

No. of Local Employees: 11.

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Investors: Carey and Lori Lawrence, Mike Gilligan, David Levy, DRE LLC, Alla and Dennis Weinstein.

Headquarters: Point Loma, in Liberty Station.

Year Founded: 2011.

Company Description: FITzee Foods brings ready-to-eat, delicious healthful versions of American classics, serving up meals, bars and snacks.

Key Factors to Success: The successful opening of FITzee’s flagship store laid the groundwork to create the FITzee Brand. The launch of FITzee Corporate Wellness Program also is playing a role in the company’s success.

Scripps Health is helping its employees and patients meet the challenge of making healthy choices by introducing vending machines provided by locally based FITzee Foods Inc.

Scripps installed its first vending machine stocked with FITzee’s organic, nutritionally balanced and — with some items — gluten-free foods in February and has since placed them in six clinics and one corporate location on Campus Point Court in University City. Meals by FITzee are also for sale in the Scripps La Jolla Hospital cafeteria and a meal delivery service is available at Scripps’ Sorrento Valley corporate office.

Time to Eat

The clinics and corporate offices are a natural fit as Scripps already offers healthy menu selections at its hospital cafeterias. Andrea Krakower, manager of wellness development and promotion for Scripps Health, said the vending machines open a range of options to staff and visitors, especially when there’s a lack of eateries nearby or there are time constraints.

“It’s challenging to go somewhere and come back, so we brought FITzee in to encourage and support a healthy lifestyle by providing access to a delicious and healthful meal,” she said, of the self-checkout vending machines that are expected to expand at Scripps contingent on high performance and positive feedback. “Our employees love having the options available to them. It really makes making the healthy choice the easy choice, because anything they select from the kiosk they know is going to taste great and be good for them.”

Krakower said FITzee Foods is just one component of a comprehensive wellness program offered to Scripps employees that includes fitness classes, stress management seminars and cooking classes. Not only does the seven-year-old wellness program contribute to a healthy workforce, the strategy of slowly expanding the program to meet employee needs has paid off with lowered health care costs. Krakower said the savings allows Scripps to continually invest in the health and well-being of employees. In the case of FITzee Foods, Scripps can subsidize a portion of each meal by amounts that vary according to the price of the meal.

“As a health care organization, Scripps recognizes the important role that nutrition plays in an individual’s well-being,” said Vic Buzachero, senior vice president of Scripps Health. “Our partnership with FITzee Foods allows us to provide delicious, fresh, healthful meals to employees at a discounted rate from the convenience of a vending machine. Investing in the health of our employees is an important strategy for providing the best patient care to the community.”

Scripps Health is so far FITzee Foods’ largest customer, according to company President Michelle Weinstein, who founded FITzee in May 2011 and has since grown it to 11 employees. While others such as Northrop Grumman Corp., Genoptix Inc., San Diego International Airport and San Diego State University have taken interest in what FITzee has to offer, Weinstein says it takes time to develop these large relationships into contracts.

Weinstein said she started the company with a desire to provide healthy foods to the masses with added ease and convenience.

Changing Habits

“I had a fitness background and business background and knew that eating right was the hardest part for people,” Weinstein said. “Unless people have meals that are ready-made for them, they’re not going to be able to change their habits.”

The operation works from a retail store at Liberty Station in Point Loma and a commissary kitchen in Miramar where food such as salads, wraps, enchiladas, pizzas and trail mix are prepared. Weinstein said the healthful foods incorporate mostly locally sourced produce, grains and proteins such as free-range chicken and turkey and wild salmon. Nutritional labeling is placed on each package. The company additionally offers a delivery service locally and nationally, and has pickup locations for online orders in San Diego.

FITzee’s gluten-free protein bar made with high-fiber ingredients can also be purchased at Albertsons stores and Whole Foods Markets or on the company website, fitzeebar.com.

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