This Ohio Grocery Store Gives Children FREE FRUIT As Alternative To Junk Food

image001Titus Palmer, 6, of Greenville, takes a bite out of an apple at Kroger in Greenville. The store has begun offering free fruit to kids 12 and under as a healthy snack alternative.

GREENVILLE — Without exception, during a grocery shopping tour, parents are bound to hear their children’s dreaded cry, “I’m hungry mommy!” At least once that is!

Maybe time has come for this grave problem to be solved

The produce department of Kroger Supermarket at 200 Lease Avenue in Greenville is now offering FREE FRUIT TREATS  to kids aged 12 and under.

According to Ms. Barbara Matthews, Greenville Kroger Store’s Manager, the concept was first proposed by the resourceful store associates at a recent meeting of the store’s “Inclusion Council.” At their Council meetings, associates from various departments offer ideas on how to improve associate retention as well as increase customer retention and engagement.

Someone saw the idea elsewhere and asked if we could do this, and we decided to try it here. So far, it has been very well received,” she said cheerfully and added, We look at it as a healthy alternative for kids who come to the store, as opposed to, say, cookies.”

The “Fresh Fruit 4 Kids” display has only been up since this past Tuesday, but already the word of the store’s kind generosity has spread quickly via the social media of course.

How fast has word spread?

Really fast,” said Matthews. “And it wasn’t us who did it! A customer took a photo and posted it on Facebook. Since then, it has really taken off in the community.”

For the time being, the store is offering 4 different varieties of apples, as well as ripe bananas. Ms. Matthews, who has been store manager at the Greenville Kroger for less than a year, says that the free selection may change as time passes: “We may switch it up, depending on what’s available. We’d also like to reflect what is seasonal,” she remarked the store’s benevolence.

Ms. Matthews also said that she is unaware of any other Kroger locations in the region that could be doing the same thing. “I’ve not heard of any of our “sister stores” doing this, but they may be,” she said.

How long will the free fruit giveaway at Kroger last?

Ms. Matthews said, “Based on the feedback we’ve gotten from everyone so far, we plan to keep it up as long as the parents and kids continue to like it.” If we judge on it, it looks like the giveaway will be welcome for a long, long time!

And hopefully, the largesse will become viral!

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Kelly McKinnie pushes her 3-year-old daughter in a shopping cart as she holds out the banana she got for free at Orange Street Food Farm recently.The owners of the grocery store and the two Missoula Fresh Markets have started a program to give a free piece of fruit to children 12 and younger accompanied by a parent to promote healthy eating habits and help parents get their shopping done.

MISSOULA —  This is the second paradise place where 3 locally-owned grocery stores are doing their part to fight the evident tender age obesity and medical conditions.  By supporting this idea, they invariably help parents avoid shopping with ever hungry youngsters.  And everyone will agree with us that giving out free fruit is the best possible alternative to junk food, processed food or sugary candies.

The Orange Street Food Farm and the two Missoula Fresh Market locations – on South Reserve Street and West Broadway – have started a program to give away a free of charge banana or other type of healthy fruit to children 12 years of age and younger who are keeping company of their parents while shopping for daily groceries.

Mr. Craig Holtet, who purchased the 3 stores with his business partner Ron Ramsbacher the previous year, said the program has been in the “works” for a long period of time and has now become official: “We have always done it to a point,” he said. “I have always thought it is great to have kids, and it is great if they want some fruit for a snack while they walk around the store. The fruit is good for kids. We really want to push the fact that there is really good snacks for kids at a grocery store.”

The program will run indefinitely at all 3 stores, with a sign and a bin of fruit in the produce section. In the first few hours while the program was in place at the Food Farm, a dozen of children riding in shopping carts happily peeled the bananas given away.

The store manager at the Food Farm, Ms. Vanessa Hendrix, said that she wanted to make the program official after a customer shared a Facebook photo from an Ohio store that promotes healthy eating habits in kids by giving away free fruit: “A lot of grocery stores around the country do it, but one of our great customers – they’re all great – went on our Facebook page and shared that post,” she said. “We decided to run with it and see what happens.”

Ms. Hendrix said health department regulations stop the store from handing unwashed apples and other fruits that need to be well-washed for kids, so they have settled on bananas for now: “But if they want something else the parents just have to ask, so if they want a pear, great,” she said. “And that is great for us because it encourages that dialogue between our employees and the customers, our guests at the store.”

Hendrix said giving kids snacks helps parents, too, because nobody wants hungry and upset kids while they are busily shopping: “I have kids, and anyone who has brought a toddler shopping with them has probably been given a banana or a cheese stick or Goldfish because toddlers are irrational human beings and sometimes they want what they want,” she said. “So in order to make mothers’ lives easier, grocers have for years said, ‘Hey, here’s a banana, here’s an apple.’ And it quiets them down and makes them more patient, and moms can finish shopping and everybody’s happy. There’s way more value than cost in that.”

Who could deny this?!

She added that the Food Farm used to hand out cookies, but the awareness of the benefits of healthy eating habits in children has spread: “Banks used to give out suckers, and now a lot of them give out stickers,” Ms. Hendrix said.

On the other hand, Mr. Holtet said that both he and Ramsbacher, and many employees at the stores, have children: “We understand the battles we, as parents, are facing,” he said. “So we all care about kids, too. In any way we can have a positive influence in the community – that is what we are trying to do with these stores.”

Ms. Holtet also said that he and Ramsbacher have made it a point since buying the stores to coach a variety of programs that benefit the community and employees alike. For example, Mr. Holtet is helping organize fat tire bike races at Marshall Mountain this weekend, and the company has offered ski trips and whitewater rafting days for employees too. Those are all things which a locally-owned, independent store is at least able to do.

We do a lot of engagement, and the community is starting to get our personality,” he said in an interview. “Those are things some of the bigger guys can’t do. We get to have fun with everybody.”

It definitely is fun for everyone…

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