WILMINGTON, Del. -- The Produce for Better Health Foundation's 5 a Day Across the USA tour is preparing for a another cross-country jaunt as the organization, based here, gears up for another round of promotions designed to boost consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. This year's motorcade departs Salinas, Calif., May 18, and ends in Washington June 2. During the tour, PBHF representatives will be distributing pledge cards to consumers with the goal of obtaining one million written promises to eat 5 a Day.
The tour is scheduled to hit 20 cities along a 6,100-mile route. At each stop, the caravan will host in-store events with participating retailers. Some appearances already scheduled include: May 19 at a Safeway unit in San Ramon, Calif.; May 23 at an Albertson's in Phoenix; May 26 at Supervalu, Minneapolis; May 30 at Kroger Co., Cincinnati; and June 1 at Stop & Shop, Quincy, Mass.
As in past tours, the group will distribute individual pledge cards, and invite participants to sign large, banner pledge cards that will be on display at every stop. The Foundation's "Produce Man" mascot will be on hand to encourage people to sign. The banners containing signatures from all over the nation will be exhibited at the finale in Washington, according to organizers.
In addition to pledge cards, in-store promotions will include product demonstrations by some of the tour's sponsors, including Del Monte Fresh Produce, ProduceOnline.com and the Washington Apple Commission, among others. The foundation also anticipates appearances by local politicians and radio personalities.
This year's trip is the PBHF's third 5 a Day Across the USA tour. In 1998, a route stretching 1,500 miles brought the 5 a Day message to 17 cities along the East Coast. The 1999 tour covered 1,800 miles and 14 cities along the West Coast. Now, the 2000 tour is the first to travel coast to coast.
The expanded range of the tour fuels the foundation's optimism regarding the ambitious one-million pledge-card drive. According to Robb Enright, the PBHF's director of public relations and production, estimates from previous years put the current number of individual signed pledge cards at roughly 30,000.
To help the organization reach its goal, some retailers have begun securing pledges in advance to be presented upon the tour's arrival in their city. Associated Food Stores, Salt Lake City, is administering a statewide contest in which elementary schools encourage children to pledge. The class with the most pledges wins a trip to Salt Lake City to submit their pledge cards in person when the 5 a Day caravan stops there. To further aid the foundation's efforts, some retailers are actively recruiting employee pledges from within, according to Enright.
The tour will be hosting several special events designed to serve as publicity highpoints during the long tour. For example, just prior to the departure from Salinas, area residents will attempt to create the World's Largest Tossed Salad. There will also be an out-sized salad bar set up on the capitol steps in Salt Lake City. When the motorcade rolls into Bentonville, Ark., hometown of Wal-Mart stores, the PBHF and supporters will organize and host a breakfast at Wal-Mart corporate headquarters that highlights versatile 5 a Day recipes.