(July 2, 3:56 p.m.) LENEXA, Kan. — The expansion of the federal Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program in the 2008 Farm Bill means more U.S. schoolchildren will be eating fresh produce on a daily basis.

But Elizabeth Pivonka thinks there’s more to a successful program than just giving kids a fruit or a vegetable and saying, “Here, eat it.”

Kids must be sold on the idea, and Pivonka, president and chief executive of the Wilmington, Del.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation, hopes a new PBH program will accomplish just that.

Speaking June 30 at The Packer’s office, Pivonka detailed the Adopt-A-School Community Outreach Program, in which retailers, growers, individuals, foundations and others sponsor a school or school district’s use of PBH’s Fruits & Veggies – More Matters Creative Pockets marketing kits.

The program was created in response to a need expressed by school foodservice managers and others Pivonka has met at trade shows.

“When we go to shows, people say they love our program, but they can’t afford the materials,” she said. “And we can’t afford to give them away.”

PBH relies on sales of its catalogs and other marketing materials to finance a substantial percentage of its operations, Pivonka said.

The main item in the kit is an apron with pockets filled with flashcards containing information about produce. Teachers wear the apron and lead students in an interactive game.

Other items include lesson plans, bean bag characters in the shapes of fruits and vegetables, Frisbees, chalk, jump-ropes and stress balls.

Pivonka said the foundation has received strong interest from a retail chain interested in being a sponsor. A PBH employee, Toni Eaton, the foundation’s production manager, is sponsoring a Delaware school district.

During her visit to The Packer, Pivonka outlined other summer initiatives for PBH.

In late July, the foundation plans to unveil the second phase of rollouts on its Web site for kids, foodchamps.org, which was launched in April and is targeted for kids 2-8. New additions to the site will include more games and coloring pages and a party-planning kit.

By late August, the foundation hopes to post about 200 30-second videos featuring chef Michael Marks, known to television viewers as Your Produce Man, on its Web site.

The videos, made exclusively for PBH, will show consumers how to buy, prepare and serve a variety of fruits and vegetables. They may also be posted on You Tube, and the foundation hopes to add more videos in the future, Pivonka said.