(April 23, 3:45 p.m.) MONTEREY, Calif. — When it comes to setting an example for how to boost consumption by spreading the Fruits & Veggies — More Matters message, retailers should look to Schnuck Markets Inc., which extends the message beyond the produce department.

The Produce for Better Health Foundation, which oversees the More Matters campaign, named Schnucks the Supermarket Retail Role Model during its April 17-19 spring board meeting.

Elizabeth Pivonka, president and chief executive officer of the Wilmington, Del.-based foundation said the recognition was primarily through the efforts of Mike O’Brien, vice president of produce and floral for St. Louis-based Schnucks and former chairman of the foundation board.

“Through Mike’s effort as the champion, Schnucks helped spread the message of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption by featuring the logo in every area, including fresh, private-label canned and the frozen section,” she said.

“Somebody has to be the champion in an organization, and that turned out to be me,” O’Brien said.

He said because supermarket departments are compartmentalized and managers don’t communicate freely with each other, he first had to break down the walls by being relentless in trying to convince corporate leaders that the foundation’s Fruits & Veggies — More Matters was important.

“I wanted to expand More Matters to the center store, so I brought the brochure over to our vice president and put it on her desk and I said this is not a frivolous program,” he said.

He said he explained that it was a health program that emphasized that all forms of fruits and vegetables were healthy, not just fresh.

“I said we need to get the logo on all private-brand products that qualify,” he said. “I said I needed her help in talking to some of the suppliers to get them to put it on their products or transition from 5 a Day to More Matters.”

He said that he looked at the benefits of adding the logos to all fruit and vegetable products.

“I look at canned and frozen as an opportunity for me to get more sales down the road,” he said. “I wanted to see the logo all over the store. You just have to keep reminding people that you need to do this because it’s the right thing to do.”

Clark Wood, buyer and analytical team leader of produce and floral for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark., said he admired O’Brien’s efforts on behalf of the More Matters program.

“We are obviously proud of Mike and his efforts in being a champion for More Matters and in so doing he was able to involve all the departments of Schnucks,” he said. “This is not a competitive thing, like I’m competing with Schnucks or Food Lion, as we do in a regular business setting. This is more of a cooperative, collaborative effort as a retail industry to promote Fruits & Veggies — More Matters, so we can learn from each other and we’re all unified in our approach.”