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QUINCY, Mass. -- In a nation where 20 percent of children are now overweight, Ahold banners Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover are joining with Nickelodeon and the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) to introduce an in-store "Kids' Corner" program employing popular cartoon characters to help children make better nutritional choices.
Currently rolling out to all of Stop & Shop and Giant's over 550 stores, the program offers a free monthly activity sheet featuring well-known Nickelodeon characters from such shows as "Blue's Clues," "Dora the Explorer," and "SpongeBob SquarePants."
"Healthy eating habits begin in childhood," noted Stop & Shop/Giant consumer advisor Andrea Astrachan in a statement. "Fruits and vegetables are nutrient-packed and generally low in calories. Encouraging children to eat more fruits and vegetables is one powerful way to combat the rise in childhood obesity."
The full-color activity sheets, which will be on display at the center of the produce department of each store, include health-conscious messages targeting young children, complete with a featured fruit or vegetable of the month, tips for nutritious eating, and a kid-friendly recipe for adults and children to prepare together.
"Experience shows us that reaching out to children with fun activities and messages featuring their favorite entertainment characters is a great way to encourage them to eat more fruits and vegetables," said Bryant Wynes, PBH senior executive of retail marketing.
"Using our characters such as Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants to promote healthy foods is part of Nickelodeon's overall health-and-wellness campaign, which empowers kids and families with information to make smart choices," added Jean Margaret Smith, Nickelodeon's s.v.p. public affairs. "These activity sheets further our mission to encourage kids to develop healthier lifestyles by eating healthy fruits and vegetables."
Several Nickelodeon characters are already featured on fresh produce items, including carrots, spinach, and clementines. Additionally, the network has committed $30 million and 10 percent of its airtime to health-and-wellness messaging, including its multi-platform "Let's Just Play" campaign.
Nonprofit PBH is chair of the National 5 A Day Partnership, comprising government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and industry working together to expand 5 A Day efforts to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables for improved public health.
Stop & Shop operates 380 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York, and employs over 58,000 associates. Giant Food LLC, based in Landover, Md., operates 192 supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia, and employs over 25,000 associates. Giant stores in Delaware operate under the Super G name. Included within Giant's stores are 163 full-service pharmacies.