Three-year-old Lewis Taylor looked over the small stand of fresh fruit at the Fisher’s Landing Fred Meyer offering rows of clementines and bananas, Gala and Granny Smith apples. He went straight for a banana.
The Vancouver tyke and his mom, Melissa Taylor, were shopping for produce when they came across Fred Meyer’s new campaign, Fruit for Kids, that offers free healthy snacks to young shoppers.
“We’ve always offered free cookies in our bakery,” said Melinda Merrill, spokeswoman for Fred Meyer and QFC stores. “The purpose here is to get parents thinking about fruit as a fun, free thing.”
“We’ll still have cookies, of course,” she added.
Melissa Taylor was happy to see the program at her neighborhood grocery store after hearing about similar programs at other grocery chains.
“It’s a great program,” Taylor said. “Usually we get a cookie, but that’s not very nutritious.”
“I’d rather go with the healthy option,” she added.
Lewis seemed to prefer the healthy option, too, munching on his banana after giving his mom the free cookie.
Fred Meyer rolled out the Fruit for Kids program at all of its Northwest stores over the past couple of weeks. Some stores started their own free produce programs before the official program rollout, but now shoppers can expect to find the produce stands at every Fred Meyer store, Merrill said.
Each store has a small display set up in its produce department with a collection of clementines, bananas and apples. Produce clerks keep the stands stocked throughout the day with fruit that has been washed and stickers removed, said Chris Levi, food manager at the Fisher’s Landing Fred Meyer.
Parents were quick to take notice of the program at the east Vancouver store, with several shoppers telling clerks how much they appreciated the free snacks for kids, Levi said.
Count Katy Miller among those who were happy to see the fruit offerings. Miller stopped by the grocery store last week after picking up her 3-year-old granddaughter Maisy Fels from day care. On the way into the store, Maisy was asking for a snack, Miller said.
While shopping, Maisy picked out a banana from the produce stand.
“I love it for kids,” Miller said. “It really keeps her occupied while shopping.”
Fred Meyer isn’t the first grocery chain to come up with the free produce idea.
The Fisher’s Landing New Seasons Market stocks a small wagon with apples and bananas for kids to snack on while shopping. And last fall, the east Vancouver QFC was one of three QFC stores piloting its Fruit for Kids program. The program rolled out to the rest of the QFC stores in January, Merrill said.
The response to the program at the Vancouver QFC store has been great, said store manager Adam Fritz. Parents stopping by the store with their kids, either before or after school, appreciate the store offering a healthy snack to hold kids over until mealtime.
“It really has been a great program,” he said.