Chelan Fresh Marketing has put into action a plan to take the successful Fuel Up to Play 60 program to a new venue.

In an attempt to stem the tide of childhood obesity, the National Football League developed what was originally known as Play 60, a program designed to encourage children to get 60 minutes of exercise daily. The program’s name was modified when the National Dairy Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture came aboard to urge children to eat nutritious foods.

Fuel Up to Play 60, now in thousands of schools nationwide, will expand to retailers if the dreams of Terry Braithwaite, director of marketing for Chelan Fresh Marketing, Chelan, Wash., are realized.

“Kids usually eat whatever the parents buy,” he said. “But we can take the Fuel Up to Play 60 message to retailers and help educate parents about the program.”

Chelan Fresh moves to bolster Fuel Up to Play 60The efforts of Chelan Fresh have led to test marketing of the retail concept in three states: Washington, Colorado and Florida, Braithwaite said.

In Washington, Chelan Fresh has the support of the Seattle Seahawks and Blitz, the team’s mascot, he said, while a generic approach has begun in the Denver market.

“We want to see how the program with the Seahawks will play out compared to the generic program,” Braithwaite said.

In Florida, Chelan Fresh is working with Jacksonville-based Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. The plan devised by Braithwaite and Chelan Fresh, however, would not provide any chain with program exclusivity.

“We don’t want kids to go to a store that does not have the program,” he said. “I’ve told retailers, and they understand fully.”

The grower-shippers represented by Chelan Fresh are prepared, though, to customize the program from one chain to another, Braithwaite said.

The Chelan Fresh concept is not limited to the fruit it markets.

“We’d like to have everyone involved,” Braithwaite said.

Should the retail program prove to be successful this fall, Chelan Fresh is ready to embrace newcomers from the fresh apple industry and elsewhere.

“We’re hoping to bring on more commodities, to have more retailers on for next year and make it a nationwide program,” Braithwaite said. “It’s not a program we can do by ourselves.”

Chelan Fresh also has positioned the retail effort to participate in the Fuel Up to Play 60 challenges the program gives to participating children.

A challenge this fall is to create a menu for a healthful meal for children.

“It makes kids think about what’s healthy, what they should be eating, how they should go about preparing a meal planner,” Braithwaite said.

Chelan Fresh makes it easy by including a panel on its tote bags, where children can create their menus, and a quick-response code that links to how apples may be included in the recipes.

“We’re connecting what they’re learning in school with the challenges and taking it to the retail level,” Braithwaite said.

Children may submit their entries to the Fuel Up to Play 60 website to win valuable prizes.

Chelan Fresh is donating to the NFL charity that funds the program three cents of every Fuel Up to Play 60 bag of apples sold, Braithwaite said.

“One-hundred percent of the dollars donated go back to participating schools in the area in the form of grants to keep the program going,” he said.

Grower-shippers and retailers seeking more information on the program will be able to talk with representatives of the NFL and the National Dairy Council at Chelan Fresh Marketing’s booth at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2011, Oct. 14-17, in Atlanta, Ga., Braithwaite said.

Chelan Fresh Marketing does not view Fuel Up to Play 60 as a large, new revenue source, he said.

“We’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” Braithwaite said. “We’re hoping to increase consumption among kids. We’re hoping to do our part to help curb childhood obesity.”