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    Produce Retailers, Suppliers Join Forces To Benefit Hospitalized Children

    REIDSVILLE, Ga. -- In the last year, seven supermarket organizations helped raise over $225,000 for Children's Miracle Network affiliated hospitals throughout the country for in tandem with Produce for Kids (PFK) based here.

    REIDSVILLE, Ga. -- In the last year, seven supermarket organizations helped raise over $225,000 for Children's Miracle Network affiliated hospitals throughout the country for in tandem with Produce for Kids (PFK) based here.

    Publix, Kroger (Southwest Division), Meijer, Giant Foods, Tops Markets, Harris Teeter and Schnucks participated in the PFK campaign, which ran in more than 1,750 stores. During the promotion period, sponsors pledged a per unit donation on produce shipped to the participating retailers' stores.

    Over the last three years, produce retailers and suppliers on behalf of CMN raised donations totaling nearly a half-million dollars. "Produce for Kids has put its resources into two areas: raising money to help hospitalized children in our participating retailers' markets, and educating children and parents alike on the healthy benefits of eating more fresh fruits and vegetables," said John Shuman, PFK executive director and president of Shuman Produce, Inc., marketer of RealSweet brand Vidalia Onions. "Best of all, 100 percent of all money raised goes directly to the affiliated Children's Miracle Network Hospitals."

    "Produce for Kids is a great way to involve our customers and our communities in support of local children's hospitals," said Jennifer Panetta, director of communications for Harris Teeter. Bill Breetz, president, Kroger Southwest, agreed. "Kroger is a long time sponsor of Children's Miracle Network and the Children's Hospital in the areas we serve. We have now formed a partnership with Produce for Kids to raise more funds for the local Children's Hospitals. Kroger is the right store with the right price to support the right cause," he said.

    Produce for Kids is an all-inclusive integrated marketing campaign, featuring point-of-sale materials along with advertising, public relations, and Internet marketing support.

    "Just three years ago, we conducted a pilot test with just a few sponsors and one retailer. In 2005, the program has already grown to include seven retailers with 1,750 stores in 22 states," said Kevin Dunleavy, PFK national sales director.

    Critical to the success of the campaign is the commitment of produce industry sponsors, and this year, the list of participating companies continued to grow: In 2005, the program's sponsors include Shuman Produce Inc. (RealSweet Vidalia Onions), Del Monte, Fresh Express, Dole, Santa Sweets, Inc., Chiquita, Tropicana, Stemilt Growers, T. Marzetti, Potandon Produce (Green Giant brand potatoes), Ripe 'n Ready, Driscolls and Country Fresh.

    Another component of the PFK campaign has been to increase awareness among kids and parents on the importance of a healthy diet with more fruits and vegetables, a goal that becomes even more important in light of emerging research about the risks of childhood obesity. Going forward, the campaign's goal is to increase support to CMN while educating children on the healthy benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

    In 2006, a new link on the PFK web site, http://www.produceforkids.org, will transport users to The Power Pyramid Adventure, an educational program aimed at elementary school students in grades K-3 and their parents. Featuring a fun cast of characters in a Central American jungle setting, an ongoing storyline and two-dozen activity sheets, the promotion invites kids to help uncover the healthy secrets of the Power Pyramid.

    The 2005 participating retailers and sponsors will be honored during a special check-giving ceremony at the upcoming Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit Convention and Exposition in Atlanta.

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