Amanda Keefer knows first-hand that moms need all the help they can get when it comes to feeding their kids healthy food.
“With a 5-year-old and a 9-month-old, going to the grocery store without my husband around is not something I want to do,” said Keefer, marketing manager for the Orlando, Fla.-based Produce for Kids organization.
To make life easier for moms, Produce For Kids is refreshing its website and expanding its collection of Ideal Meal cards, which offer healthy recipes created by chefs and approved by nutritionists.
The cards were available in supermarkets during Produce For Kids’ spring campaign, its largest yet with 16 participating retailers. The recipes are also posted online.
“We have had an extremely positive response to our Ideal Meal program,” Keefer said.
“Our retail partners love the additional value the program brings to the produce department, and consumers love the ease and tastiness of the meals.”
Publix, Meijer, United, Stop & Shop, Martin’s, Giant Landover and Giant Carlisle stores will be participating in Produce For Kids’ fall campaign, she said.
Meijer, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., donates more than 6% of its net profits back to the community, and has worked with Produce For Kids for nine years, said public relations manager David Peterson.
“We’re pleased to be partnering again with Produce For Kids to offer healthy and nutritious options for our customers and their families,” Peterson said.
The fall campaign, which begins Sept. 4 and supports PBS Kids, will introduce another 16 breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes, for a total of 64. They’ll include healthy holiday dishes such as stuffed turkey with a green bean casserole.
Parents will soon be able to search the website by ingredient to find the ideal meal that corresponds to what’s in their pantry.
They’ll also be able to rate the meals online and add comments.
Each retailer displays the cards differently, Keefer said, using display units or tear pads. The cards themselves are tailored to a retailer’s sponsors.
If RealSweet onions is a Publix sponsor, for example, the ingredient list on a recipe for sweet onions will include the brand name. When posted on the Produce For Kids website, the recipes don’t include brand names.
After a successful spring trial, quick-response codes on the meal cards will link smartphone users instantly with a video of the chef preparing the dish on Produce For Kids’ website, which has posted a 400% increase in traffic in the last year thanks to its prominent display on all promotional materials.
Produce For Kids is also looking for at least five “online influencers” to offer healthy eating tips and resources for parents in a new section of the site.
“The Parents on Produce board will help deliver the Produce For Kids message to other parents who already trust them,” Keefer said.
She and a colleague are also active in social media, constantly monitoring and responding to messages on the organization’s Facebook page and Twitter account.
Between grocery giveaways and the chance for fans to win one of three gaming systems by indicating their favorite meal, Produce For Kids collected nearly 3,000 new Facebook fans and 3,000 followers on Twitter this spring, she said.
Over the winter, Produce For Kids plans to poll its Facebook fans to ask what kind of meals they’d like to see for next spring’s campaign, she said.
“Our message is definitely getting through to parents that it is important to make a difference in their child’s eating habits.
“While the message coming from us is great, we want to have an army behind us saying here’s how we can beat childhood obesity and here’s how we can combat these issues.”