Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction: Fruits & Veggies—More Matters Month
(September 2007)....................................................................... 1
Working with Schools................................................................. 2
Planning the Event..................................................................... 4
Strategies: Fun Things to Do...................................................... 5
Activities in Schools and Other Kid Settings........................... 6
Industry Partners............................................................... 9
Working with the Media............................................................. 17
Appendix A: Contacts............................................................... . 20
Appendix B: Checklist of Steps and Timeframes........................... 21
Appendix D: Order Form for CDC Materials from PBH................... 24
Appendix E: Poster Diagram....................................................... 26
Appendix F: Recipes.................................................................. 27
Appendix G: Template for Press Release..................................... 28
Appendix H: Stirring the Melting Pot........................................... 29
Introduction: Fruits & Veggies—More Matters Month
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of everyone’s healthy eating plan, but for many Americans, eating enough can be a challenge. This booklet is designed to provide fun ideas to help nutrition and educational professionals encourage children and their parents to eat more fruits and vegetables by exploring new tastes provided by cuisines from around the world. We describe many activities in this book in school settings; however, they are just as appropriate in other venues, such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, 4-H, Campfire Girls, after-school programs, faith-based programs, and anywhere children come together with adults for learning and recreation. Also, although this collection of school-based ideas has been developed for September Fruits & Veggies—More Matters month, they can be used at any time of the year.
This is the second idea book1 that is designed to help you promote fruit and vegetable consumption using the new brand, Fruits & Veggies—More Matters.™ The first audience for the promotional ideas in Explore the World with Fruits and Vegetables is schoolchildren who are primarily ages 7-12. However, most activities can be used or adapted for younger or older children. The second audience is parents or other adult care-givers who have primary responsibility for children outside the classroom and who set daily eating routines as well as prepare meals at home that reinforce what children learn in school.
How to Use this Information This is an idea book. It covers basic information about planning events, working with the media, and working with partners. The heart of the manual, however, is the section that outlines strategies to use in promoting fruit and vegetable consumption in schools and with parents.
The ideas we’ve included are not hard and fast rules. This idea book should be used as a starting point for planning and tailoring your event to reflect your goals and your program. Please feel free to seek help in finding other resources or advice from the staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH). Contact information is listed in Appendix A.
Working with Schools
Schools have always been fertile ground for collaboration with fruit and vegetable nutrition coordinators, but developments in the last few years have reflected an ever-growing sense of urgency on the part of public health and the medical community, education personnel at all levels, and parents to improve the quality of food children eat at school.
School Wellness Policies
The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 required all school districts in the United States to develop wellness policies by the 2006-2007 school year. School districts with federally funded school meal programs were required to develop and implement school policies that address nutrition standards of foods available in schools, nutrition education, physical activity, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness. As you plan fruit and vegetable promotion activities in schools, it’s a good idea to contact and partner with school district committees that are implementing their local wellness policies.
Resources for information on School Wellness Policies:
US Department of Agriculture (USDA): Information on school wellness policies can be found on the USDA Team Nutrition web site. This information includes requirements, model policies, implementation strategies and suggestions on funding implementation.
http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/Healthy/wellness_policyrequirements.html School Wellness Policy and Practice: Meeting the Needs of Low-Income Students : The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) has produced a guide to using the development of school wellness policies to respond to the special nutrition concerns of low-income students. http://www.frac.org/pdf/wellness_guide2006.pdf Promoting Fruits and Vegetables in Schools: Wellness Policy Opportunities: The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) has information on their web site about ways to promote fruit and vegetable consumption through school wellness policies.
Institute of Medicine: Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools: Leading the Way Toward Healthier Youth
In April 2007, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recognized the importance of the role of schools in contributing to current and life-long health and dietary patterns of children and the adults they will become when they released a report that recommended nutrition standards for foods in schools. Eating recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables are at the heart of these recommendations. As the school year begins, many schools will be focusing on nutrition standards because of the recent development of their own district-level wellness policies and the additional information in the IOM report.
Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools reviews and makes recommendations about appropriate nutritional standards for the availability, sale, content and consumption of foods at school, with particular attention dedicated to competitive foods. The report concludes that:
Federally reimbursable school nutrition programs should be the main source of nutrition at school.
Opportunities for competitive foods should be limited.
If competitive foods are available, they should consist of nutritious fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nonfat or low-fat milk and dairy products, as consistent with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).
You can find links to the IOM Report Brief, the Executive Summary, and the full report at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11899.html. The reports can be downloaded or purchased.
Another report from Healthy Eating Research, a National Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, titled “School Foods Sold Outside of Meals (Competitive Foods),” explains the impact of food made available to students outside the federal school lunch and breakfast programs, including vending machines, a la carte offerings in the cafeteria, snack bars, school stores, and fundraisers. In response to concerns over rising rates of childhood obesity, there has been increasing attention focused on the need to establish school nutrition standards and restrict or limit access to low-nutrition, high-calorie competitive foods and beverages in schools.
Parents and teachers can be some of your greatest allies in promoting fruit and vegetables in the school setting. Many already have concerns about the impact of what children eat on their health and their ability to learn. They can be strong advocates for implementing programs and policies, but most of all, they directly influence what children learn and what they eat. There are suggestions in the section of this idea book that cover strategies in schools, but consider other opportunities that may be suggested by your partners and the School Health Advisory Councils. You may also want to consider providing articles for the PTA or PTO organizations’ newsletters.
Planning the Event
Schools reflect the communities they serve, and US communities have become increasingly diverse. Many places still reflect the heritage of the early settlers who came to the United States: the English, Irish, Germans, Russians, Africans, Chinese, and many others. These people brought their food along with cultural events and customs that became the basis of many food traditions in the new world. Add to that the more recent immigrants from Asia, South and Central America, the Middle East and others, and you have a wonderful opportunity to enjoy many food flavors as well as to understand something about the culture that nurtured them. All of these countries have tasty ways to prepare fruits and vegetables unique to their area.
Children in the primary and middle grades see children from other countries in their classrooms and communities at the same time they study other countries in geography, history, and language classes. They also become aware of their own cultural heritage through the foods prepared at home and at family events.
The activities in this idea book are based on these routine experiences and are designed to help children expand their natural curiosity to try new ways to eat fruits and vegetables. At the same time, we will suggest ways to engage parents in this learning experience.
As you plan your event, you may want to use the Checklist of Steps and Timeframes for Planning an Event in Appendix B.
Strategies: Fun Things to Do
There are many ways to plan fun, educational activities that encourage children to try more fruits and vegetables by exploring other cuisines. To get you started, we have listed some ideas using fruits and veggies in school curriculum—for example, geography, history, and math. These may fit within the regular classes, or may be part of off-campus treasure hunts. Use your imagination too! Check out the Resources section which lists materials, contacts, and programs such as USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, the National Agriculture Library, PBH’s web site, and many others. Find out what your colleagues are doing also. Another place to look is in 5 A Day Works in the section called “Youth Innovations.”
When working with schools on educational activities, it is best to consider how you may fit within the school curriculum and routines. Therefore, some of the suggestions reflect how to intersect with geography, history, math and science lessons. There may also be opportunities to partner with the USDA Free Fruit and Vegetable program, if this program is active in your state. You may be able to combine some of the activities below with their activities.
A few tips to keep in mind when working with schools on educational activities:
Try to fit within existing school curricula and routines. Be creative in thinking how fruits and vegetables fit into the “3 R’s”: reading, writing, arithmetic.
Find a champion at school—a principal, teacher, nurse, student, parent, or school nutrition service staff.
Be prepared to get involved with lesson plans, training and/or teaching.
Think about tying in classroom learning to the cafeteria and promoting a campus-wide event.
One other note on the food: remember that the United States is part of the international community. Food that is unique to the United States can be included also, particularly when exploring diverse regional foods, such as Cajun recipes or southern foods.
Resources: Several resources have been developed by CDC and PBH for this theme, such as recipe cards for kids and adults, a poster, worksheets, a fruit and vegetable passport, and a brochure for parents. However, many other resources developed by other organizations can be helpful and add a great deal to your activities. Sources for these materials and ideas are listed in “Resources” on page 11.
Activities in Schools and Other Kid SettingsGeography and history classes are a natural for exploring fruits and vegetables in other countries. Ask the students to investigate which fruits and vegetables grow in the country or region they are studying. Ask them to include how people in that area might have prepared fruits and vegetables. Do fruits and vegetables have a role in the country’s economy (exports)? (For older students who have access to the Internet in the classroom or at home, this could be a relatively easy assignment. Younger students may need some help.) If possible, bring some of the fruits and vegetables discussed to the classroom so that students can see and taste them. You may find it helpful to use the poster, Fruits and Veggies: We Want More!, in your classroom. This poster, which was created for this promotion and is described in the Resource section of this book, pictures some of the fruits and vegetables common in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, India, and Africa.
Plant a fall garden or start fall vegetables in seed pots: Choose some traditional ones, but see if you can find cool-weather vegetables that are used in other countries. Seed companies and organizations that specialize in preserving select seeds may be helpful. Gardening activities can be linked to many subjects, including math and science. Check out the web resources on school gardens under “Resources” on page 16 of this manual.
Food tasting: September is a time when all gardeners have a ton of tomatoes, squash, potatoes, apples in the northern part of the country, and other produce. Find someone who will donate some of their excess produce and use it to show the children how one or more vegetables are used in different cuisines: for example, tomatoes in pasta sauce, in salsa, gazpacho, and a French salad.
Fruit and vegetable treasure hunt in a grocery story or farmers’ market: This activity will require extra adults, parents or volunteers, to help. Give the children a list of fruits and vegetables to find in the market or grocery store. Remind them that fruits and vegetables come in fresh, dried, canned, 100% juice, or frozen form. They should check off each fruit and vegetable they find. You might consider using the poster for examples of produce used in other cuisines, particularly for older children. Children can be put into teams to make the activity a team competition, which would be one way to identify a group of children for each adult monitor. If you have a budget or a partner or donor who could help cover prizes or the cost of fruit and vegetable snacks following the hunt, all the better.
Other activities that you might link to subject areas could be to do cost comparisons (math) of various forms of fruits and vegetables (such as fresh, frozen, canned, dried). This would require the students to calculate quantities in relation to cost. The students could also write “thank you” letters to the host market (writing and composition).
The Network for a Healthy California has an excellent resource to help you plan a tour of a retail grocery store: Fruit and Vegetable Store Tour Guide. This booklet covers developing the relationship with the retailer, many ideas for teaching opportunities within the store, logistics, and specific activities for school groups as well as adult groups. This resource is available at http://www.dhs.ca.gov/ps/cdic/cpns/retail/retail_promAct.htm.
Store tours are an excellent way to teach children that they can get fruits and vegetables fresh, canned, frozen, dried, or juiced. The Network for a Healthy California’s store tour guide has one activity designed specifically to cover this topic.
Another resource to use with children in a store guide is PBH’s Supermarket Scavenger Hunt, which can be found on their web site: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.
Fruit and Veggie Passport: As part of a larger activity book, this simple template allows kids to create their own passport to track their consumption of fruits and veggies in all forms. Each time a fruit or vegetable is eaten over a short period of time, younger children can place a mark or stamp in the blanks and older children can write the name of the fruits and vegetables they’ve eaten in the blanks provided or paste a picture. The passport can be personalized as it allows children to add their own photo or a drawing of themselves.
The complete activity book, called “Discovering Fruits & Veggies” is a unique package showcasing the Fruit & Veggie Color Champions as hand puppets and comes with a storybook with lesson plans and activities designed for kids, ages 3 to 8. The Champions come to life as they journey through distant lands and teach important nutrition lessons, such as trying new foods, MyPyramid, and choosing fruits and vegetables. The puppets and the activity book come together in a colorful backpack. Use the order form, or go on-line at http://www.pbhcatalog.org.
Fruit and Veggie Challenge: A week-long challenge may be a good way to excite the students about eating a variety of fruits and veggies. Different classes could challenge others in their school, or different schools could challenge each other. PBH’s Fruit and Veggie Passport could be used to keep track of produce consumed.
Another resource for USDA Team Nutrition Schools is the Fruit and Vegetable Challenge Packet. This activity packet combines the Fruit and Vegetable Challenge poster with a dry-erase marker and instructions for classroom use. This is available on request to Team Nutrition Schools at
Exploring the children’s heritage: Ask the children to talk with their parents, grand- parents, and care-givers about where their family comes from. Also ask them to work with their parents or grandparents to come up with a family recipe that includes fruits or vegetables and that may be unique to their family history. However, if children are unable to identify their origin or food associated with it, they should be able to simply bring in a recipe with fruits or vegetables that their family uses routinely. Particularly for older children, you might remind them about the foods they eat at holidays.
Build a cookbook: Compile a classroom cookbook with the recipes the children bring to the class. In Appendix C, you will find a cover template for a classroom cookbook with the graphics from this campaign.
Area Restaurants: Give the students the assignment to write down the restaurants in their neighborhood that serve food from different countries. Ask them what their favorite food is that has fruits or vegetables on the restaurant menu. For older children with access to the Internet in the classroom, you might have them find the restaurants on line that post their menus. The children could then try to identify what items have fruits or vegetables. This would provide the opportunity to talk with the kids about good choices away from home.
Senior citizens: Many communities have a wealth of ethnic diversity in their senior citizens. Many of these seniors like to garden or cook. Check out a local seniors’ community center to see if some of them might be willing to host a group of students or come to the school to talk with them about their homeland and the foods associated with them. If possible, you might ask them to prepare some food dishes with fruits or vegetables for a food tasting at the event. Or you may have volunteers who could help with the snacks or dishes.
Fall Festivals and Parent-Teacher Conferences: Many schools have social events, back-to-school nights, or parent-teacher conferences in September which may provide opportunities to display materials or have taste-testings in common areas inside or outside the school or a food demonstration with a chef. Perhaps the school would allow local farmers to set up a small farmers’ market at the event.
Parent-Teacher Organizations: Work with the PTA or PTO to get on the agenda for the September meeting. The beginning of the school year is a time when schools may be implementing the IOM recommendations for nutrition standards in schools or their own school wellness policies—or parents may simply want to talk about better nutrition choices in the school. You may want to partner with the organizations in your state and communities who are working to implement nutrition standards in schools, including the designated person in the state department of education and the district-level committees that implement their local wellness policies and the School Health Advisory Councils.
If you plan to implement some activity in the school during September, this would be a good opportunity to explain to the parents what the children will be doing and provide them with recipes and ideas that they can use to provide support at home for what the children learn at school. This will also give you the opportunity to explain how fruits and vegetables are an important part of the foods to be encouraged in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as reflected in the IOM report, Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools. Offering more fruits and vegetables can help schools meet nutrition goals in their wellness policies. If you want to go all out, have a chef prepare some of the recipes provided with this campaign for the refreshments, or simply prepare some of the simple salsas and dips along with platters of fruits and vegetables.
Industry Partners A number of industry partners in the National Fruit and Vegetable Program who are licensed to use the brand will be conducting activities to promote fruits and vegetables in September. PBH has provided a list of licensed industry partners by state. If you have not received that list, contact your CDC representative. Keep in mind that these companies are already PBH donors, and you are requested not to ask them for funding. However, PBH encourages their in-kind donations of products or services and their participation at events or activities with their own employees.
Although many industry partners will be planning activities, the following may provide unique opportunities for collaboration:
Hidden Valley Ranch’s (HVR) new initiative, Love Your Veggies, was created in response to Local Wellness Policies that went into effect in the 2006-2007 school year. Because many schools do not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, HVR offered 5 grants ($15,000 each) to public elementary schools in the United States during the 2006-07 school year to support increased access and consumption of fresh, healthy foods through an on-campus vegetable station. Winning schools could spend the funding on equipment for the station, fresh produce, staffing, nutrition education supplies or nutrition training. Other partners are the Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program (EENEP) at University of California, Davis; the School Nutrition Association; Jodie Shield, M.Ed, R.D., L.D.; and the Gerasole Girls. HVR is expanding this program to one $10,000 grant for efforts to promote fruits and veggies for one school in every state for the 2008-09 school year. Contact Barbara Boyce at PBH (Appendix A) for more information.
Welch’s is planning a nationwide initiative for the week of September 24-28, 2007 to support Fruits & Veggies—More Matters Month. The initiative is called P.A.C.K. Week: Pack Assorted Colors for Kids. Each day of P.A.C.K. week is assigned a different color and parents will be encouraged to send their children to school with a lunch or snack from the designated color group each day. Over 4600 elementary schools are being invited to participate through school nurses who are active in the National Association of School Nurses. Participating schools will be provided free materials to use. When working with local school systems, particularly if you are working with school nurses, be aware that they may be planning a P.A.C.K. event. These activities are good complementary events to some of the activities you may want them to consider also. Talk to them about how these efforts can be combined in a rich learning experience for the children.
Working with Ogilvy Public Relations, PBH will be distributing a press release template to state coordinators to assist them in highlighting the state winners of the Fruits & Veggies—More Matters Challenge contest that began during the March launch of the new brand. The winners submitted winning tips or recipes on ways they get their family to eat more fruits and veggies. Ogilvy will be focusing their efforts on the national media and the grand prize winners of the contest who will win trips to The Culinary Institute of America in New York and California. All winners should be determined by mid-July, and state coordinators will be notified by August.
Several resources have been developed specifically for Explore the World with Fruits and Vegetables. CDC will provide all state fruit and vegetable coordinators and any other program designer or coordinator with free electronic copies of these materials. Print copies will be available from PBH. See Appendix D for PBH’s order form. You can also order on-line at www.pbhcatalog.org.
The print resources that have been developed for “Explore the World with Fruits and Vegetables” are described below.
A poster depicting children from different regions of the world with the title: Fruits and Veggies—We Want More! This title is translated into other languages surrounding collages of fruits and vegetables common in different regions and cuisines of the world. Appendix E is a “cheat sheet” naming the regional fruits and veggies on the poster.
Four interactive worksheets of varying complexity showing fruits and vegetables used in international cuisine. Users are given clues pertaining to their use in different countries and asked to identify them. Recipes for all fruits and vegetables on these worksheets are included in the recipe cards listed below.
A brochure for adults urging them to try new flavors with fruits and vegetables by using spices or different cooking techniques to give fruits and vegetables unique international taste.
Recipe cards for adults and for children provide easy, tasty ways to prepare and serve the fruits and vegetables from around the world that the children learn about. Recipes are listed in Appendix F.
Recipe Resource for Low-Income Populations: USDA Food Stamp Nutrition Connection Recipe Database http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov In addition to the recipes provided by CDC in the materials for this promotion, a new USDA web site provides hundreds of recipes that use low-cost, readily available ingredients and can be prepared relatively quickly. The database can be searched by a number of categories including “Eat More Fruits and Vegetables” and various regional/ethnic audiences such as American Indian, Asian, Hispanic, Southern, and Middle Eastern. The database can also be searched by the cost per serving or cost per recipe.
The recipes comply with the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans, but not all comply with Products Promotable criteria for the Fruits & Veggies—More Matters brand. If you want to use a recipe with the logo, you will need to make sure it complies with Products Promotable. The staff at CDC have determined that the following recipes do meet the criteria, but only a small sampling of recipes were tested.
Recipes that Comply with Fruits & Veggies—More Matters criteria:
(a sample page with this recipe from the database is on the next page)
More Resources for Fruit and Vegetable Promotion in Schools Produce for Better Health Foundation’s website: www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org This web site has a section with resources you can use when working with children including the Supermarket Scavenger Hunt, a Tracker & Shopping Planner, coloring pages, and activity pages explaining how much is a cup of different fruits and vegetables.
Produce for Better Health Foundation’s Catalog: Whether it is activity books, growth charts, a canvas bag with play fruits and veggies, fruit & veggie reading books for K-5, or a colorful backpack of the Fruit & Veggie Champions as puppets along with a story book, activities, and lesson plans, the Produce for Better Health Foundation catalog is a resource for educators, health professionals, and others. See the full line of items on line at: www.pbhcatalog.org or call 1-888-391-2100.
Network for a Healthy California—Children’s Power Play! Campaign: http://www.dhs.ca.gov/ps/cdic/cpns/powerplay/pp_resources.htmSchool Idea & Resource Kits for 4th and 5th Grades: Each kit includes 10 activities designed to encourage and motivate students to eat fruits and vegetables and be physically active every day. The activities link to the California Content Standards in English/Language Arts and Mathematics. Materials include lesson plans and creative activities in English and Spanish. The web site also has materials to use to help children understand how many fruits and vegetables they should eat, materials for parents, and a Community Youth Organization Idea & Resource Kit for out-of-school programs. For child-friendly recipes, go to http://www.dhs.ca.gov/ps/cdic/cpns/powerplay/pp_recipes.htm.
Network for a Healthy California--Harvest of the Month: www.harvestofthemonth.com The Harvest of the Month Tool Kit provides materials and resources to support healthy food choices through increased access and consumption of fruits and vegetables. The materials also encourage daily physical activity. Harvest of the Month is comprised of four key elements: Educator Newsletters, Family Newsletters, Menu Slicks and Press Release Templates. Each month features different seasonal fruits and vegetables.
USDA/FNS: Small Farms/School Meals Initiatives: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Bring Small Farms and Local Schools Together
This manual provides activities to help groups plan, conduct, and publicize a professional town hall meeting that encourages small farmers and local school food officials to begin a farm-to-school project. Farm to School on the Web: http://www.farmtoschool.org/
This web site provides information on farm-to-school programs across the country, resources and funding opportunities, training opportunities, and media coverage. Healthy Acadia’s Farm to School Initiative: www.healthyacadia.org/farmtoschool.html
This resource explains how to build connections between local food producers, school food service providers, and children and youth.
USDA Free Fruit and Vegetable Program http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/ChildNutrition/fvppbackground.htm
http://www.pbhfoundation.org/pulse/policy/programs/usda_fv/ For descriptions of USDA’s Free Fruit and Vegetable Program, visit these websites.
USDA Team Nutrition: http://teamnutrition.usda.gov/Default.htm
Team Nutrition provides support for child nutrition programs through training, technical assistance, and a number of resources. This web site has information on nutrition education, healthy eating and physical activity. Schools are the key focal point. A second web site, the Healthy Meals Resource System provides information and materials for school foodservice and child care professionals. http://healthymeals.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=14&tax_level=1
Making It Happen: School Nutrition Success Stories
Making It Happen—School Nutrition Success Stories illustrates a wide variety of approaches that schools have taken to improve student nutrition. The most consistent theme emerging from these case studies is that students will buy and consume healthful foods and beverages—and schools can make money from healthful options.
This resource contains descriptions of programs from each state, many of which target children and are set in schools.
Scholastic and the Produce Marketing Association is developing a program for teachers of grades 3 and 4, kids, and parents focusing on making fruits and vegetables fun for kids to consume. Materials will include a classroom poster, lessons, and reproducible activities. The program also includes take-home activities to encourage family interaction with fun experiences for parents and children while teaching them the importance of eating fruits and vegetables.
School Gardens and Gardening Web Sites
There are a number of sources of information related to general gardening information and school gardens that may be helpful to you if you are planning a school garden. Check out these web sites:
Fun, colorful events with children are media magnets, especially if the event tells the story of local interest. And who isn’t interested in a story about getting kids to eat something good for them? Also, food in schools is a very compelling local topic. If you do plan to get media coverage for your event in a school, you will need to have parents’ and the school’s permission to photograph the children. Many schools have a routine release form on file so that photos can be used. Ask if this is the case at the school where you are planning the media event. If it is not the case, you will need to obtain permission from the parents before the event.
A template for a media advisory is in Appendix G. We have also included a fact sheet (Appendix H) that provides information from the US Census and other data that describes the diversity of US states and communities. You may use these tools to tailor your own unique press materials.
Working with Your Local Media What is news?
Reporters often look for stories that have “hooks” or “angles” that draw people in. When talking to a reporter or editor, you will want to offer information or stories that appeal to the audience of the particular media type.
Some ideas include:
Personal Interest Story – Have the parents tell the story of how their children began eating more fruits and vegetables—or have the children tell their own story.
Events – Tell the media about your event, how many people you are trying to reach, and what impact or message you are trying to achieve.
Tips for eating more fruits and veggies – A short article on how to get kids to eat more fruits and veggies would be a good fit in a Lifestyles or Health section of a newspaper.
Picture It – If you have a picture from your event, send it to your local paper with a short caption. Sometimes this can lead to a story, but even if only the picture is printed, people will still see what you are doing.
How do I get media coverage? TV, radio, and newspaper reporters are always looking for story ideas. In some cases, you may even be able to write the article for them. Reporters are usually appreciative of this time saver.
Build a relationship – find a reporter in your area that covers health or food stories and build a rapport. Send information about events or materials periodically and send Thank You notes whenever you or your organization are quoted or acknowledged.
Try to meet face to face with reporters, editors or producers. Bring with you any press releases, articles, or other materials that you would like them to use. When inviting them to an event, make sure you leave them some background information and a page with the date, time, place and directions to the event. If you do receive coverage, be sure to send a Thank You note following the event.
Weather forecasters often mention events during their segment. Contact your local weatherperson to ask if they will announce your event.
Give adequate time – reporters are usually (always) working on a deadline. Be sure to give them adequate notice of your event. Also, be prepared to give them more information in a timely manner as that deadline approaches.
Some Examples of Deadlines
Daily morning newspapers
2 pm the day before
Daily evening newspapers
Morning of the day of
5-7 days before
Adapted from NCI Working With the Media Guide for 5 a Day for Better Health. How do I find a reporter?
Most television stations, radio stations, and newspapers have websites. There is usually a link on the website to find contact information for specific editors or reporters. Email is a great way to contact a reporter or editor with a story idea and their emails are often found on the media’s website. Your local paper may even have a way to submit a story idea or letter to the editor online.
You may need to do a little homework to see which reporter would be most interested in your story before contacting him or her. Reporters tend to cover one area of the news…sports, business, etc. So you want to make sure that the reporter you contact covers the type of event or story you are presenting. For example, a sports columnist probably won’t be interested in a food tasting, unless a local sports team is involved. Try contacting a feature, lifestyle, city/metro or food reporter instead. It may be helpful to contact the editor of the section you want your story in, since they make the decisions of what gets printed.
What if I can’t get a story? Sometimes, more pressing news can take precedence over the story you have worked hard on. Or perhaps you weren’t able to contact a reporter to cover your event. There are other ways to get your message out through the media.
PSAs – Public Service Announcements – most radio and even some television stations will read or play these announcements. When distributing these to the media, be sure to provide your contact information so that you may be contacted should any questions arise.
Letters to the editor – Anyone can write into their local paper regarding any current event. It may be helpful to draft a letter to the editor ahead of time and submit it to be published on the day of your event. Or write a letter to the editor after the event thanking everyone who participated.
Morning radio talk shows – many morning programs will have a day or two where they have studio audiences or talk to people who call in. Try calling the radio station or emailing the talk show host to see what days they do this and how you can participate.
What about my spokesperson?
If you have a spokesperson, you may want to direct reporters to him or her. Make sure s/he is prepared with speaking points about your event and knows what messages they should convey. When asking someone to be your spokesperson, be clear about how often you would like him or her to speak, and how much time they will need to devote to your fruits and veggies program. It is a good idea to choose a spokesperson who is part of your organization, or a partner organization. That way, s/he will be familiar with your program.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Kathy Cobb, Kathy.Cobb@snet.net, 860-388-9655
Mary Ann Fenley, email@example.com, 404-592-1407
Joe Ralph, JRalph@cdc.gov, 770-488-5545
Tara Simpson, TSimpson1@cdc.gov, 770-488-5435
Laura Tanase, LTanase@cdc.gov, 770-488-5413
Produce for Better Health Foundation
Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., CEO & President; firstname.lastname@example.org; 302-235-2329, ext. 315
Checklist of Steps and Timeframes for Planning an Event The following steps for planning an event are listed in a relatively chronological order. However, you may need to customize them for your launch efforts as you begin your planning process. As soon as possible:
List the goals of your event (e.g., bring attention to one of your programs; encourage more people to eat more fruits and vegetables)
Decide who you want to reach. (Moms? Kids? Policy-maker in local work sites? Child care personnel? Restaurants?
Choose your partners. (Who are your partners in your coalition? Who has access to the population you’ve targeted? Who has resources and funding to help you?)
Jot down what the partner will bring to the launch effort.
Design the event with your partners. (See suggestions in the following section.)
Some find it helpful to have a checklist for planning the details of the launch. If so, use the following for your planning. We have supplied some dates for completion to help you plan so that you aren’t frantic just before the launch. You should adjust your timetable to suit your situation. Also, there are some specifics related to different strategies that are included in the next section (such as lining up a chef).
A checklist is included on the next page for your convenience. You may want to edit it to include all the specific steps you want to keep track of as you design your own event.
Line up the place where the event will happen.
Decide who will speak or have some role in the event and invite them.
Finalize and reserve location.
Finalize launch program plan and agenda.
Confirm photography and develop shot list
Visit location and determine “dressing” (tables, podiums, banners, etc.)
Line up the resources you need (e.g., food).
Identify the educational and/or promotional resources you need and acquire or copy them. (You may decide to develop them yourself or adapt existing materials.)
Develop materials for the press. Compile media kits. (More on this and templates in a later section.)
Develop guest list and invite observers.
Make sure everyone is prepared to do their part:
Speakers are prepared and know when to arrive.
Someone will take care of the food or other materials.
Someone will prepare the site.
Someone will make sure the educational materials are there.
Someone will handle the guests as they arrive.
Plan for follow-up and evaluation
Some questions you might consider:
Did you meet your goals and objectives?
Did everything go as planned?
How many people did you interact with?
How well did people participate in the event?
Appendix C: Classroom Cookbook Cover (on next page)
Explore the World
with Fruits and Vegetables
(name of school)
Official Order Form for CDC Materials
(on next page)
Produce for Better Health Foundation
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Explore the World with Fruits and Vegetables
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Orders from $76-$200 = $15.00
Shipping & Handling
Orders over $200 = 10% of total order
Call for large order pricing. All orders shipped UPS Ground. Please call for shipping outside the continental U.S. International orders, Express Delivery or orders totaling less than $9.95. Allow 5-10 BUSINESS DAYS for delivery.
Appendix G: Template for Press Release (This sample adaptable news release provides the framework for state and local fruit and vegetable programs to tailor a release for their own use with newspapers, magazines, and television and radio stations in their communities. Where marked with brackets, the organization should fill in the blanks with locally relevant information or names. The release should be printed on your organization’s letterhead.)