During our year-long commitment to raising funds for the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative in Texas, a light bulb went off – this program is a guaranteed consumption builder for fresh produce. Rather than just a donation (though it’s still certainly philanthropic), this is an affordable investment in our nation’s future health – and our industry’s future growth.
Case in point: We recently learned that 53 salad bars have been donated to schools throughout the Cincinnati, OH school district. As a result, the district more than doubled their annual fresh produce spend. DOUBLED. We’d say that doubling the purchase of our products constitutes an “investment” more than just a donation, wouldn’t you?
We were also excited to learn at the recent United Fresh Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools press event that, HBO would be donating 100 salad bars to schools across the country in conjunction with the premiere of their Weight of the Nation documentary series that takes a deep dive into the national obesity crisis. We were impressed to see that rather than simply documenting the epidemic, they’ve instead SPENT additional money to battle it. And what’s most impressive about HBO’s donation of 100 salad bars is that, for them, it’s 100% philanthropic. This global media empire doesn’t have any direct benefit from school districts purchasing more fresh produce. They just care.
And while we’re on the subject – HOLY COW, The Weight of the Nation was a wake-up call (even to fresh produce marketing professionals who are deeply connected to the obesity epidemic)! We encourage you to watch the series (again, it’s free online!), but wanted to provide a few of our most eye-opening take-aways:
ON FOOD MARKETING
- Food marketing to kids is POWERFUL as youngsters develop brand preferences very early in life
- Michelle Obama said, “It’s not enough to limit the ads for unhealthy foods to kids, we need to increase marketing for foods that ARE healthy!” Bravo, Mrs. Obama!
ON SCHOOL LUNCH
- 40 to 50% of daily caloric intake in children occurs in school, yet 94% of schools fail to serve lunch that meets the USDA’s nutrition standards
- Unfortunately, most schools are extremely underfunded for the food expectations that are placed on them
- There are no federal laws requiring physical activity at school
- Projections show that obesity prevention is cheaper than future health care costs for weight related illnesses
The announcement of the 100 salad bar donations to Texas schools at United Fresh 2012, HBO’s documentary and subsequent donation, and the tenacity of the Let’s Move staff and supporters have all contributed to a palpable enthusiasm around this initiative. And we should act while the enthusiasm is at its peak, and our country and her children are facing their greatest time of need. 500 salad bar donations across the U.S. by the May 2012 United Fresh Expo in San Diego?
Count us in.