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Retail partners, grower-shippers and other supporters joined Produce for Kids founder John Shuman (third from left) of Shuman Produce in Reidsville, GA, at a Fresh Summit reception announcing donations from the spring campaign totaled more than $400,000 to support the Children's Miracle Network hospitals. (Photo by Chip Carter)

ATLANTA - The Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit show provides the industry an opportunity to review benchmarks and celebrate victories. One of the industry's more inspiring stories, the Produce for Kids program, uses the show as a chance to provide annual updates about its continued success.

Founded by John Shuman, president of Shuman Produce Inc. in Reidsville, GA, PFK benefits the Children's Miracle Network hospitals and PBS children's programming. In a reception held here Oct. 15 during the PMA Fresh Summit, Mr. Shuman announced that the PFK "Get Healthy, Give Hope" spring 2011 campaign raised more than $408,000 for children's hospitals across the country through the participation of some 40 grower-shippers and 16 retail partners - a record for the program.

Staci Cross from the Children's Miracle Network told about 100 growers and retail partners at the reception, "I can't say thank you enough. You can remember what you're doing every day to help kids."

Added Mr. Shuman, "Obviously we're grateful for the support. But everyone gets a benefit out of this program. We're raising money and providing great community outreach for our participants. But most importantly, the children served by the CMN hospitals will benefit."

This year's spring campaign included 16 retailers nationwide: Acme Markets, Ahold's Giant Food Stores, Martin's, Giant Landover and Stop & Shop divisions, Associated Wholesale Grocers' Major Savings, Advantage, Independent, Country Mart, Homeland and United divisions, Kroger's Southwest and King Soopers divisions, Meijer, Inc., Price Chopper and Publix Super Markets.

The spring contributions raised the cumulative program totals to $3.55 million in donations to children's charities.

"We could not be happier with the results of our spring campaign," said Mr. Shuman, who came up with the idea for the program after his young son received care at a CMN hospital. "In 10 years we've raised $3.5 million. Who could have imagined? Together with our retailers and produce sponsors we are able to raise money for children who need it most. We look forward to continuing to give back to the communities that have supported the program."

PFK's fall program, "Eat Smart for a Great Start" is already underway and will benefit PBS Kids nutrition-based programming. A new wrinkle for this year's fall campaign is a partnership with Publix and the United Fresh Produce Association to raise money for the "Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools" initiative.

Produce for Kids launched several other new programs last year, according to Executive Director Heidi McIntyre. A refurbished website, produceforkids.org, offers new features and resources to give busy parents information and ideas to help families eat healthier. A new committee, Parents on Produce, offers daily advice for parents juggling busy lives and healthy options. The program has also expanded its social media presence.

Produce for Kids is a leader in providing healthy eating resources and meal solutions to busy families through its web site and point-of-purchase promotional materials. Participating growers and retailers donate a percentage of revenue from product sold during the spring and fall campaigns to PFK.