LENEXA, Kan. — With an approving nod from the White House, Americans will soon be able to take a pledge to eat more fruit and vegetables and they find out where they can sign up for that challenge.

The Produce for Better Health Foundation, looking for ways to partner with first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move childhood obesity initiative, is launching a year-long pledge campaign in September, Elizabeth Pivonka, president of the Hockessin, Del.,  said in a visit to The Packer newsroom.

PBH planning pledge, community pages

The name of the campaign is “America's More Matters Pledge: Fruits & Veggies . . . Today and Every Day!”

In addition to the pledge campaign, PBH will be launching a “My Community Activity Exchange” on the PBH consumer Web site, www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.com, that will provide fruit and vegetable-related news and promotions in local communities.

Pivonka said the outreach to the Let’s Move campaign extends from the 15-member National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance. The alliance includes PBH, the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association, the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, health/disease prevention agencies, industry associations, consumer groups and nutrition advocates.

“We have been talking with the White House with how we can pair up the Let’s Move campaign with the Fruits & Veggies — More Matters campaign, and we have come up with a pledge campaign,” she said.

The Let’s Move campaign has approved PBH’s consumer-focused outreach, Pivonka said.

“They know what we are doing, they like what we are doing,” she said.

PBH is communicating with the first lady’s office to explore even closer links with the White House campaign.

Obesity is a hot button issue for consumers, Pivonka said. The most frequent questions that PBH receives from consumers are how to lose weight and how mothers can get their kids to eat more fruits and vegetables.

“To me, it is just common sense. If you want to lose weight, you eat fruits and vegetables instead of other things and you exercise,” she said.

The pledge component offers three options for consumers, encouraging them to “eat more” fruits and vegetables, make “half your plate” fruits and vegetables or “eat one more” fruit or vegetable during the day.

The pledge can be taken online, she said, and also through forms that will be made available for retailers.

Consumers signing up online, Pivonka said, will be encouraged to subscribe to the e-newsletter Fruit & Veggie Voice, and follow the More Matters campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

Pivonka said the “My Community” activity exchange page provides information to consumers and also help public health and policy advocates to identify successful local efforts to boost fruit and vegetable consumption. She said United Fresh and PBH are building the community database,  and identifying U.S. schools receiving funds for the fruit and vegetable snack program.

“We’ll populate the site with all of those schools because we get that question a lot,” she said.

Pivonka said the website allows consumers to post information about fruit- and vegetable-relate activities and promotions in their communities.

Farmers markets and farm-to-school programs won’t be a focus of the My Community page; Pivonka said other website already provide that information.

Pivonka said produce marketers can use the site to feature their promotions.

“It’s not just PBH that will be working on it, but we would rely on the industry to use it as a way to reach consumers, to extend their own marketing programs as well,” she said.

Pivonka said PBH is building a social media contact list and blogger contacts so it can notify consumers about the pledge.