Although a day does not pass that I fail to count my blessings for my healthy, active, fast-growing son, my gratitude is magnified two-fold during the annual Produce For Kids (PFK) reception that I’ve had the great pleasure of attending in recent years during PMA’s Fresh Summit to celebrate the retailers and suppliers that support its tremendously worthwhile cause.
Founded by John Shuman, president of Reidsville, Ga.-based Shuman Produce Inc., Produce for Kids partners with retailers and produce marketers to raise money to benefit Children's Miracle Network, which helps create medicial miracles to purchase life-saving equipment and cover medical costs for uninsured or underinsured pediatric patients.
With this in mind, I’m pleased to report that Ahold’s Stop & Shop, Giant Food Stores-Carlisle, Giant-Landover and Martin’s divisions, United Supermarkets and Meijer are once again throwing their considerable support to PFK’s annual “Eat Smart for a Great Smart” fall campaign that kicks off this week. Collectively representing over 1,000 grocery stores in 24 states, the retailers will link up with 23 fruit and vegetable companies to make a donation to PBS Kids based on the sale of their fresh produce brands through the end of October,
Over the past five years, PFK’s fall campaign, through its supplier and retail partners, has raised more than $650,000 for PBS Kids, to support the development of educational content, resources and outreach materials that promote healthy eating to families and educators nationwide.
Participating stores will feature exclusive Produce For Kids’ Ideal Meals display units complete with 12 new Ideal Meal recipe solutions for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks using fresh ingredients found in the produce department. Just in time for the holidays, PFK’s Ideal Meals program is offering healthy twists to some holiday favorites this fall. Ideal Meal collectible recipe cards are free to shoppers. In-store recipe demonstrations will take place in participating stores featuring campaign sponsor products to show consumers just how simple a healthy Ideal Meal is to create.
PFK will also support the campaign extensively through all social media outlets as well as through the newly improved produceforkids.org, which includes updated information and resources for parents. PBS Kids will be supporting the campaign through regional PBS stations’ websites, heavy promotion on PBSparents.org and PBSKIDS.org and through the PBS social media networks.
“We have great partners in the produce industry who make it possible for PFK to continue to share the message of healthy eating with families as well as support PBS KIDS’ educational outreach for educators and families,” relays Heidi McIntyre, PFK executive director.
Shoppers can also enter the “Play With Your Produce Challenge” for a chance to win PBS Kids personalized back-to-school gear and grocery gift cards valued up to $100. Teachers are also invited to enter their classrooms in the “Play With Your Produce Classroom Challenge” and can win $500, $750 or $1,000 in cash rewards for their classroom.
Later this fall, PFK will debut a new Parents on Produce committee composed of experts and online influencers in the professional and parenting arena. Already national advocates for healthy lifestyles and balanced eating habits, this new board of parent professionals will further support the importance of a healthy, produce-bearing diet in direct association to the PFK message.
Participating produce suppliers/sponsors of the fall campaign include: Buddy Fruits The Healthy Fruit Snack; Chiquita Bananas; Crunch Pak Sliced Apples; Del Monte Gold Extra Sweet Pineapple; Del Monte Fruit Naturals Cups; Dole Packaged Salads; Eat Smart Party Trays; Fresh Express Packaged Salads; Green Giant Fresh Klondike Gourmet Petite Potatoes; Klondike Rose & Red Potatoes; Marie’s Salad Dressings; Marzetti Caramel Dip; Michigan Apples; Modern Farms Mushrooms; NatureSweet SunBursts Tomatoes & Vine Ripened Cherry Tomatoes; Olivia’s Organics Microwave Spinach; Pero Family Farms Stoplight Peppers; Mini Sweet Peppers; Mini Seedless Cucumbers & Organic Snipped Green Beans; RealSweet Sweet Onions; Select One Tomatoes on the Vine; Sunset Mini Cucumbers; Sweet Bell Peppers & Tomatoes on the Vine; Stemilt Growers Pears; Thomas Colace Co. Tomatoes; TopLine Seedless Cucumbers & Tomatoes on the Vine; and Wonderful Pistachios.
Since its creation in 2002 by Shuman Produce Inc., PFK has raised more than $3.1 million for children’s hospitals across the country and PBS Kids to educate kids, parents and teachers about healthy eating.
Sponsored products for each supermarket can be found on materials in the grocery stores’ fresh produce departments and online at www.produceforkids.org.