MINNEAPOLIS — Green Giant, in a survey, has found that children are falling far short of eating the recommended minimum five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
That particular discovery may not be a surprise, but more surprising is the immensity of the challenge parents face trying to get their kids to eat vegetables.
In fact, the study shows parents find it easier to persuade their children to do their homework than to get them to finish their vegetables. What's more, one in three parents who responded to the survey said their child would more likely be elected president of the United States someday than eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
That may sound dramatic, but 73% of children in the survey this summer confirmed they do not eat vegetables with dinner every night, and other studies have shown a whopping 96% of children do not eat the recommended number of servings a day.
In an effort to reverse this trend, Green Giant has launched an educational initiative for kids on a new website, www.mightygiants.com, and has introduced products with kid-friendly packaging featuring Nickelodeon characters. New packaging for frozen vegetables and some canned vegetables sport pictures of Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants.
Earlier this summer, Green Giant commissioned Kelton Research, Los Angeles, to conduct the research. The sample consisted of 317 parents over age 18 and 200 children ages 6 to 10, all of whom were polled by phone.
While Green Giant's new products will join its others in the grocery and frozen aisles, the survey results will reverberate up and down the produce aisle as well.
When kids participating in the survey were asked to choose favorites from a list of vegetables, 35% chose french fries as their favorite vegetable. For second place, there was a three-way tie between green beans, carrots and broccoli.
Supermarket produce managers, showing little surprise at the survey results, told SN they try numerous tactics to get kids to tune in to vegetables and fruits.
At Day's Market, in Heber City, Utah, produce manager Chris Hummer said he gives half-hour talks about fruits and vegetables and balanced diets at elementary schools several times during the school year. “What surprises me most when I talk to kids is that so many don't know what a vegetable is,” he said. “For instance, if they have eaten a green salad or coleslaw, they don't consider that a vegetable.”
There's good news in that observation. It indicates kids in general may be eating more vegetables than they think they are. Hummer said the kids he talks to tend to think the word “vegetable” means a side dish of green beans or spinach or corn or the like.
That's where Green Giant's new endeavor comes in. At www.mightygiants.com, the company features an educational program that teaches healthy eating and exercise through an interactive, animated game. The website also includes a section for parents as well as links to other educational sites.
On Nickelodeon itself, a flight of seven 15-second Green Giant videos showing the importance of healthy eating and physical activity has been airing this summer. The videos can also be viewed online at www.mightygiants.com.
Produce industry sources told SN anything that gets kids thinking about vegetables is a plus for everybody.