Get Greens For Your School: Free Idea Hamster Here to Help

Free ideas for the asking, folks! It’s not every day you see me donating brain time for a grant tied in with corporate sponsorship, as I can smell a wellness PR ploy a mile away…but the Love Your Veggies grants are not exactly akin to “School Sit-ups Sponsored by Soda and Snacks” or McDonalds pushing apples and milk and clowns hawking fitness assemblies, (or as JediMom protests here, Ronald infiltrating her son’s pre-school!)

The marketer in me says, “smart move for Hidden Valley Ranch to proactively champion wellness by giving out $15,000 to 10 schools across the nation; they’ll seed their brand by touting a 3-way 2006 study with UCDavis Dept. of Nutrition which showed children ate 23% MORE vegetables when paired with a moderate amount of dressing, even though it adds some sat-fat into the mix.”

In ‘macro-vision mama’ analysis, it seems they should get a hallpass on this one, since increasing fresh produce consumption is the end run goal, and the good far outweighs the bad here in terms of food claims and commercialism. Especially since there is NO requirement to align with or purchase their product whatsoever, and all funding MUST go directly to fresh produce or a veggie station…

So how can YOUR school get some green so kids are inspired to EAT their greens?

I’ve got ideas at the ready for anyone who wants ‘em. Plus tons of research on resources for schools. (34pp pdf here)

Feel free to pick my brains…

Looks like their deadline is Nov. 7 for any K-6 school with a local wellness policy in place, to develop fresh produce programs as early as April ’09 throughout the ‘09/’10 school year.

I’ll be glad to donate the ol’ creative juices for a ‘wellness’ smoothie.

All it takes is the right blend of ingredients to make it a win-win…So leave a comment if you need a creative boost, or just a quick spin of the idea hamster’s wheel here, and I’ll gladly share ‘what’s worked’ from our Shaping Youth pilots or be a sounding board.

Mind you, I could argue that when we ran our Dare To Compare: Gross Out Game for Good Nutrition pilot(s), we those kids snarfed the vegetables with OR without dip, as we ‘sold’ healthy choices to kids.

We used Shrek against his drek, to get kids to eat all things green…and enticed trials of new flavors cool to kids, (homemade tomatillo sauce, cilantro dip, papaya salsa, honey mustard, etc.) and in our heavily Hispanic crowd, the fresh peppers and jalapenos went FIRST, no dip necessary.

Still, they did love the ranch taste test we ran to show how there were ‘swap outs’ of sugar/sodium on regular/fat free/lowfat versions of ranch; so you could even do something with that in terms of dippity-do-dah label literacy. (btw, here’s the nutrition breakdown of their varietals)

Love Your Veggies is teaming with nonprofits Produce for Better Health, and the School Nutrition Association which are surprisingly brimming with tchotchkes, toys, and merchandise in the school lunch reach and teach realm. They’re even marketing a custom book and celebrity tie-in, (the actress from ‘Father of the Bride’ wrote it) to add a bit of glamorama into the mix.

Here’s the book description:

“Kimberley Williams-Paisley co-wrote Henry and the Hidden Veggie Garden with the person she calls one of “her first and best teachers,” her father, Gurney Williams III.

The book tells the story of a typical boy who’d rather play video games than play outside and who prefers to eat pizza and burgers instead of peas and carrots. But after a visit to his aunt’s farm, Henry discovers a new way of eating and living, which he comes to embrace in a surprising way”

Wonder if it has any reference to ranch dressings in embedded kidlit/product placement mode? If anyone knows, tell me, ‘k?

The Love Your Veggies guidelines and grant application seem much different to me than the corporations trying to market junk food through the back door of schools, but make no mistake, it’s STILL commercialism and ad creep, no matter how you digest it.

It all depends on how it’s handled.  I might even call a few local schools that are in desperate need of obesity intervention to see if they’ll nibble on this opportunity.

Idea hamster here has some concepts on how to incorporate nutrition education components, easy ways to team with farmer’s markets and make a plan that’s sustainable after the grant dollars run out, and opportunities for community involvement that the could be a win-win for a school in need, without ‘selling out’ or becoming a brand shill.

So ping me if any of you need a hand. I’m ready to jump on my lil’ wheel to spin some creative solutions for schools…

Here are some resources at the ready to get you started!

Tips to Get Kids to Eat Green!

Shaping Youth: Childhood Obesity Category: Loads of Tips/Ideas for Produce Positioning

Shaping Youth: Show and Tell Tactics That Stick in Kids Brains

Shaping Youth: Using Marketing Methods to Sell Kids Healthier Foods

Shaping Youth/Two Angry Moms: Screen A Movie, Make A Difference

Shaping Youth: Using Shrek Against His Drek: Getting Kids to Eat Green!

P.A.C.K. Week (post forthcoming: Sept.22-26, Pack Assorted Colors for Kids

Crunch the Numbers: (Scholastic teachers program/eat healthy-learn math

Related Resources to Jumpstart Your Love Your Veggies Grant App!

RWJF: Study Finds Promoting Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Increased Children’s Intake

NYT: Lying About Your Vegetables: (people think they consume far more than they do)

NYT Magazine: Unhappy Meals (Michael Pollan)

Mayo Clinic: Vegetarian Diet, Can It Help Control Diabetes?

Health Day News: Obesity Rates Up in 37 States (report)

Prevention for America’s Health (ROI study, phenomenal!)

More Matters: Fruit & Veggies Database

More Matters: How Much Do Children Need



  1. You have a really good blog. Thanks for taking the time to write these posts. I know first hand how tough it can be to come up with posts. Thanks again, Jack B.

Speak Your Mind