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Everyone wins with ‘Healthy Schools, Healthy Minds’

by Lora Abcarian | July 27, 2012

As families anticipate the coming of the new school year, Produce for Kids is kicking educational opportunities into high gear with its fall campaign, “Healthy Schools, Healthy Minds.”

The nonprofit organization is partnering with DonorsChoose.org at selected grocery store chains during September and October, and shoppers are encouraged to help support local classroom projects by adding more fresh fruit and vegetables to their carts.

Produce for Kids was founded in 2002 by Shuman pfkProduce Inc and has raised more than $3.7 million to benefit children. The organization encourages healthy eating among families by providing simple, healthy meal solutions and resources for parents, while raising funds for local children’s nonprofit organizations.

DonorsChoose.org, an online charity helping public school teachers and their students, was founded in 2000. Teachers are able to post information about classroom needs, and donors can designate funds for specific classroom projects. To date, 230,000 public and charter school teachers have used DonorsChoose.org to secure $117 million in books, art supplies, technology and other resources that their students need to learn.

“This year’s partnership with DonorsChoose.org is a great opportunity for Produce for Kids to achieve two of its main goals: educating children on the importance of a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and providing funding for children’s charities in the communities of our retail partners,” John Shuman, president and founder of Produce for Kids and president of Shuman Produce, told The Produce News July 13. “The ‘Healthy Schools, Healthy Minds’ campaign will raise money for the funding of local health and nutrition-based classroom projects, providing resources for educating children in the participating retailers’ markets.”

Kim Avola, vice president of Produce for Kids, said that the organization’s fall campaign — the second in an annual cycle — was initiated in 2006. “The second campaign was added to educate and benefit local schools,” Ms. Avola told The Produce News July 12. “We wanted to reach out with a healthy eating message. Teaching children the importance of eating healthy with fresh fruits and vegetables from an early age is crucial in the fight against childhood obesity. Helping to fund classroom projects that aim to teach kids these important values is what the ‘Healthy Schools, Healthy Minds’ campaign is all about.”

Three retailers — Publix Super Markets, Meijer and Ahold USA — will challenge sponsors to provide financial support for the campaign.

“Retail interest is great,” Ms. Avola stated. “Retailers participating this fall are very interested in the DonorsChoose.org partnership.”

Sponsor products will be highlighted in circular ads and in-store publications such as newsletters. Twelve “Ideal Meal” recipe cards and tear-offs, which feature recipes incorporating fresh produce, will also be available for consumers to take home.

Ms. Avola added that earlier this year, the organization launched a sponsorship with Spout, which offers round-the-clock television programming for preschoolers and their parents. Sprout has donated time for national spots during the campaign.

“There will be some Sprout characters going to the stores,” she said.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Produce for Kids and participating retailers to engage the public to fund classroom projects focused on health and nutrition,” said Janelle Lin, vice president of partnerships and business development for DonorsChoose.org. “Health should start at a young age, and what kids are fed and taught at school will affect the way they live the rest of their lives.”

Mr. Shuman said the campaign is a win-win for all parties concerned. “Through working with DonorsChoose.org, all of the money raised will be used to match donations and provide wonderful educational programming in local schools,” he said. “The sales-based Produce for Kids fall promotion will provide more funding for fantastic educational opportunities in participating retailers’ markets, all the while increasing the produce ring at the register.”