ORLANDO, Fla. — Produce for Kids today launched a promotional campaign highlighting its new partnership with PBS Kids. With in-store displays at all Publix, Meijer and Giant-Carlisle stores, and new online content hosted at produceforkids.org and pbskids.org, the goal is to encourage children to eat healthy using popular characters from PBS Kids, while channeling funds raised from the promotion into educational efforts by PBS.
“We're very excited,” said Kim Lathbury, marketing coordinator for PFK. “We're going to be partnering with PBS for the next three years, and our main goal is to use our knowledge of the produce industry and our contacts to integrate PBS and all of their educational resources into our programming, and to try to get parents and kids to learn about the benefits of eating produce and eating healthy.”
In-store POS floor stands will feature Hooper, an animated guinea pig who appears with his grown-up friend, Miss Lori, in short, educational segments on PBS Kids. Each participating retailer is working with its own set of sponsors, which include Del Monte, Dole, Oppenheimer, Shuman Produce, Country Fresh, Crunch Pak, Eat Smart, Village Farms and T. Marzetti's. Sponsors will contribute a per-unit donation to PBS for all participating items sold during the month of October.
Lathbury said that PBS has been an eager participant in the promotion. “They're really behind this initiative,” she said. “They believe that the childhood obesity issue is something that needs to be addressed. They feel like, through their programs and through the programs that we presently have in place, together we can do that. It was great timing. They had not partnered with anyone in the produce industry previously, so this was a great setup for all parties involved.”
A little help from Hooper could make it easier for parents to get their kids to try more fruits and vegetables, but Lathbury noted that a parent's involvement, as well as their own familiarity with healthy eating habits, plays a critical role in encouraging long-term, positive changes in a child's diet.
“We do feel that parents need to be involved, and that's one thing our programming tries to address,” noted Lathbury.
For example, each organization's website will host two separate sections. In the kids' area, children can check out healthy eating tips, play online games with healthy eating themes like Power Pyramid Adventure, or enter contests by creating edible artwork using produce, buying products from sponsors and filling out activity sheets tracking physical activity. Prizes range from family vacations for four to pairs of inline skates.
Parents, on the other hand, can check out recipes, as well as advice from nutritionists Connie Evers and Philippa Norman, including tips for encouraging kids to try new, healthy foods, lunchbox guide resources, weekly menu planners and frequently asked questions about childhood obesity.
Since 2002, Produce for Kids, a non-profit founded by Reidsville, Ga.-based Vidalia grower and sweet onion importer Shuman Produce, has raised over $1 million for the Children's Miracle Network through similarly sponsored promotions hosted every spring. Lathbury said the foundation hopes to continue that trend with this new PBS promotion each fall.
“Our goal is to get children and parents more aware, and we're very excited about the educational resources that PBS can provide,” she added.