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Produce For Kids Hits The Big Time With PBS Kids Alliance

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, September 14, 2007

In running pieces, such as Kudos To All Involved In Produce For Kids, we have celebrated the Produce for Kids program, launched by John Shuman and Shuman Produce for the purpose of bringing the produce trade together to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network, which supports a network of children’s hospitals across North America.

The other goal of Produce for Kids has been to get children to eat more produce by educating them about the benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and by keeping it fun for the kids, including a special Healthy Kids Club.

Now the organization that John Shuman built from a dream is hitting the big time, with a new alliance with PBS:

PRODUCE FOR KIDS® AND PBS KIDS® TEAM UP TO ENCOURAGE CHILDREN’S HEALTHY EATING

PBS Parents and Produce for Kids® Provide Resources, Recipes and Materials for Parents to Make Healthy Choices for Their Families National Campaign Kicks Off in October

Produce for Kids® (PFK) and PBS KIDS are joining forces to launch an in-store and online initiative to promote healthy eating and smart food choices through the numerous benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. The initiative kicks off October 1st with a supermarket-based educational campaign encouraging children to “Eat Smart for a Great Start,” and resources and activities on pbskids.org and PBS Parents (pbsparents.org). A portion of the proceeds from the in-store October campaign will go back into PBS’s services and programs.

Featuring Hooper, the loveable and curious animated guinea pig from the PBS KIDS preschool destination, participating grocery stores will bring the fall campaign to life in their stores’ produce sections with colorful brochures and displays to help encourage kids to take their own personal steps towards living healthier lifestyles.

Since the program began in 2002, Produce for Kids® has become known for creating innovative retail promotional campaigns for the produce department that both educate kids on the benefits of healthy eating with more fruits and vegetables and raise funds to support children.

“We are absolutely thrilled and honored to partner with such a trusted, respected organization such as PBS KIDS as part of our produce industry effort to inspire children and their parents to lead healthier lives,” said John Shuman, president of Shuman Produce and founder of Produce for Kids®. “We plan to continue that fun approach to education because our sponsors and partner retailers agree that it is a great way to generate consumer excitement for fruits and vegetables.”

To further support these efforts, pbskids.org has created a healthy eating page that will include relevant games, fitness challenges and activities. PBS Parents will feature an extensive area that includes activities and information on how parents can help their children build healthy eating habits such as:

  • Parent Helpers that provide parents with strategies, activities and creative ways to encourage kids to eat healthy foods and make eating healthy foods fun;
  • An article on “Picky Eaters” that provides parents with advice on how they can encourage even the pickiest eaters to eat healthy foods;
  • Recipes using fruits and vegetables from children’s favorite PBS KIDS programs;
  • Engaging activities that kids can play at the grocery store to make them aware of the healthy options around them as well as help them build math and literacy skills;
  • An Expert Q&A with child nutritionist and author Connie Evers;

    And much more!

“This partnership further reinforces PBS KIDS’ commitment to supporting children’s healthy development for success in school and in life and eating right is one component of that,” said Andrea Downing, VP Home Entertainment and Partnerships, PBS. “With the continued decline in children’s health, PBS wants to help families address the challenges that kids face in making smart food choices and be a part of a healthy, lifelong solution.”

    

Participating retailers in the fall kick-off campaign will be Meijer, which operates 181 supercenters throughout the Midwest; Publix Super Markets, which currently operates more than 900 stores in the Southeastern United States and Giant Food Stores, LLC who owns and operates more than 150 Giant Food Stores in the Northeastern part of the country. Retailers will provide support for the program by providing a per-unit/case donation on designated produce items shipped to retailers during the promotional period.

The Produce for Kids® Web site (www.ProduceforKids.org) will provide a portal to the PBS KIDS and PBS Parents sites. It will also feature an online sweepstakes drawing for kids and parents to “Give One, Get One”. Kids can sign up to enter their name in a grand prize drawing (Get One) and a donation will be made to their local PBS station in the winner’s name for the same value as the grand prize (Give One).

The 2007 Produce for Kids® sponsors are Aurora Products, Cal-Organic Farms™ Carrot Chips, Cohen Produce Marketing Bag Apples, Country Fresh® Vegetable Platters, Crunch Pak® Sliced Apples, Del Monte® Sun Fresh® and Orchard Select® Jarred Fruit, Del Monte® Avocados, Dole® Fresh-Cut Salads, Eat Smart® Cut Vegetables, Green Giant® Potatoes, Lighthouse® Salad Dressings, Mann Packing® Sugar Snap Peas, Michigan Apple Committee Bagged Apples, OppenheimerTM Group Tomatoes, Santa Sweets® Grape Tomatoes, Shuman Produce’s REALSWEET® brand Vidalia® Onions, Stemilt Growers® AppleSweets® and Pears, Sunkist® Pistachios and Valencia Oranges, T. Marzetti® Apple Dips, Thomas Colace Company Tomatoes, Verdelli Farms Curly Leaf Spinach and Village Farms® Tomatoes.

About Produce for Kids®
In 2002, John Shuman, president of Shuman Produce, formed Produce for Kids® (PFK), an organization designed to help educate kids and parents on the healthy benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables while raising funds for hospitalized children through the Children’s Miracle Network. Since its inception, more than 45 fruit and vegetable companies, produce commodity boards/associations and supermarket retailers have supported PFK’s mission to “Get Healthy, Give Hope.”

About PBS KIDS
PBS KIDS, for preschoolers, and PBS KIDS GO!, for early elementary school kids, are committed to providing the highest quality non-commercial content and learning environment for children across the country. Providing age-appropriate, diverse programming for kids, PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! programs consistently earn more prestigious awards than any other broadcast or cable network. Only PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! have earned the unanimous endorsement of parents, children, industry leaders and teachers. With additional PBS resources to complement its programming, including PBS KIDS online (pbskids.org), PBS KIDS GO! online (pbskidsgo.org), PBS Parents (pbsparents.org), PBS Teachers (pbs.org/teachers), PBS Ready To Learn services and literacy events across the country, PBS is providing the tools necessary for positive child development. PBS is a nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation’s 355 public television stations, serving nearly 73 million people each week and reaching 99% of American homes.

For those of you not in the know, Hooper is a hot commodity with the pre-school set. PBS Kids features a short, called Miss Lori and Hooper, which runs in between programs. Miss Lori is a teacher and here is how PBS explains Hooper:

Hooper is Miss Lori’s endearing, fun-loving companion. He is a guinea pig with the personality and energy of the quintessential five-year-old boy. He is inquisitive, slightly mischievous, funny, smart and sweet. He is constantly on the go and getting into things. Like most preschoolers, Hooper is determined to do things on his own and doesn’t take “no” easily. Hooper has a wide-eyed innocence about the world. His love of learning is infectious, enticing other kids to learn along with him. Hooper loves dinosaurs. In fact, he is a dinosaur fanatic, and if he could turn into one he would!

You can watch a segment of Miss Lori and Hooper on exercise right here.

The genius of Produce For Kids is that it enables both retailers and sponsors to “Do well while doing good.” The basic gist has been to provide retailers with a promotional program that calls for the sponsors to donate money each time their items are sold through a participating retailer.

The retailers get a boost in sales, while wrapping themselves in the halo of association with Produce for Kids and the Children’s Miracle Network. Vendors who commit as sponsors get high profile positions for their products, often exclusives on their category and also benefit from the goodwill of being associated with a good cause. Of course the kids win because money is raised for the Children’s Miracle Network.

Everyone wins. Now that PBS Kids is associated, that halo will just burn brighter for everyone. With more information from PBS Parents, there is one more chance to get the word out, and with Hooper in the store and online, kids will have still one more reason to want to eat healthy.

It is good news for the industry, and there is plenty of room for more retailers and sponsors to get involved. We hope many will consider it.

Yet, beyond the industry, it is an inspirational story of how each of us could make a difference. We are not confined by the walls of the profession we find ourselves in. Each of us is limited only by the limits of our imagination and our willingness to work toward a goal.

Resolving to eat healthy is part of resolving to be all we can be. The phenomenal success of Produce for Kids is a sterling example of how much more most of us can strive to accomplish.

Congratulations to Produce for Kids and PBS Kids on the new alliance. Many thanks to John Shuman for a sterling example of a life well lived.

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