Zirkle Fruit tries Health Education to cut down on Insurance Costs and Worker Shortages - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Zirkle Fruit tries Health Education to cut down on Insurance Costs and Worker Shortages

Selah, WA -   Growers and packing houses are feeling the pinch with rising health insurance costs and worker shortages. 

Zirkle fruit has created a "Wellness Committee" that will educate employees about how to live a healthier lifestyle. 

The hope is this will in turn cut down on insurance costs and the need for more employees.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and Zirkle Fruit is learning that it also keeps sky rocketing health insurance costs under control and prevents needless worker shortages during busy seasons.

"A healthy employee is a good employee," says Marvin Record, Director of Operations at Zirkle Fruit, "He shows up to work on time and helps us run our business."

This is the first "Wellness Day" at Zirkle Fruit, where its 700 employees had the chance to take some time out of the work day to learn about healthy living.

"Oh yes, it benefits all of us," says Marina Sabido, an employee who works with sorting fruit, "We can learn how to work better without getting injured."

Ten health organizations set up tables with pamphlets from the YMCA to Central Washington Comprehensive Mental Health.

So many employees are not from the US and haven't been exposed to enough health education.

For Zirkle fruit, it's a win-win.  Helping employees stay healthy and taking proactive approach to keeping costs down.

"We have a production line job and everybody has a value," says Diana Pieti, an employee on the Wellness Committee.

Zirkle Fruit estimates its health insurance costs have gone between 10 and 15 percent in the last year.

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