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The Produce for Better Health Foundation has named Stemilt Growers Inc., based in Wenatchee, WA, the first company to attain its Non-Retail Role Model honors for its support of the Fruits & Veggies - More Matters health initiative.

The formal announcement of Stemilt's role model status will be made at the foundation's board of trustees meeting April 3 in Monterey, CA.

Stemilt Growers Inc., a family-owned tree fruit grower-packer-shipper, is a leading Washington-grown sweet cherry shipper that also ships Washington- grown apples and Northwest pears.

In 1914, the Mathison family began planting cherry, apple and pear orchards in the fertile soils of Stemilt Hill, overlooking the Columbia River and the town of Wenatchee. Today, Stemilt is still solely owned by the Mathison family.

"Stemilt Growers has been a long-term supporter of PBH and has exhibited a true commitment to the Fruits & Veggies - More Matters public health initiative," Elizabeth Pivonka, president and chief executive officer of PBH, said in a press release. "We appreciate the efforts made by all of our non-retail donors to spread the word that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is important. Stemilt has exhibited role model attributes by going above and beyond in their support of Fruits & Veggies - More Matters and PBH. The company has played a significant role in distributing Fruits & Veggies - More Matters brand messaging by integrating it into community outreach activities like their cherry promotion with Sesame Street's Elmo and the Crunch before Lunch promotion. Their efforts are thoroughly appreciated."

Some of the activities that led to Stemilt achieving role-model status are:

* Using the Fruits & Veggies - More Matters logo on its "AppleSweets" products.

* Providing point-of-sale materials that feature the Fruits & Veggies - More Matters logo.

* Adding a link to PBH's consumer web site (www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org) from its own company web site.

* Including Fruits & Veggies - More Matters messaging in its Stemilt Insider newsletter and Nutrition Roundup newsletter.

* Including the Fruits & Veggies - More Matters logo in its trade publication advertising.

* Integrating Fruits & Veggies - More Matters messaging into community outreach activities.

* Participating in PBH sponsorships.

"Stemilt is proud to be the very first non-retailer to receive PBH's role model designation," Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Stemilt Growers, added in the press release. "Stemilt is a proud supporter of PBH and Fruits & Veggies - More Matters. Like PBH, our company believes that including more fruits and vegetables at every meal is key to living a longer, healthier life. Here at Stemilt, eating more fruits and vegetables is not just a message we use, it's part of our corporate culture. We are committed to spreading the Fruits & Veggies - More Matters message. I hope other growers, shippers and processors step up their Fruits & Veggies - More Matters promotion efforts and become role models as well."