USDA picks Edelman to encourage kids to eat healthy

WASHINGTON: The US Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service has hired Edelman for a social marketing campaign aimed at making children more interested in eating fruits and vegetables.

WASHINGTON: The US Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service has hired Edelman for a social marketing campaign aimed at making children more interested in eating fruit and vegetables.

The 18-month contract began September 25 with a budget of almost $835,000. The campaign will utilize multiple communications channels, according to the RFP.

The initiative comes amid a student backlash sweeping the nation in response to regulations that school cafeterias serve twice as many fruits and vegetables while limiting proteins and carbohydrates, a menu children say is leaving them hungry.

The regulations that went into effect in August limit the overall caloric intake for kindergarten through 5th graders to 650 calories, 6th to 8th graders to 700 calories, and 9th to 12th graders to 850 calories.

The basis of these regulatory changes is a rule released in January by the USDA requiring new, healthier nutrition standards for school meals.

“To maximize the impact of changes to foods available at schools, the Food and Nutrition Service is seeking to develop a social marketing campaign that uses scientifically based, behaviorally focused, and motivational messages that encourage children to choose to consume fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free milk,” says the scope of services outlined in the RFP for Edelman's contract.

Further, the RFP asserts, “some of these foods, such as many dark green vegetables or whole-grain products, may be ‘new' to children.”

“This important work will contribute to healthier school lunches and healthier, more active young people,” said Michael Cover, SVP and group director for federal government services at Edelman.

The USDA did not respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this year, Edelman performed crisis work for Central Valley Meat after a video was leaked showing workers kicking and shocking downed cattle in an attempt to herd them to slaughter. The company is a primary provider of meat found in school lunches in the US.

In 2011, the USDA ordered 21 million pounds of beef from Central Valley Meat for use in the National School Lunch Program. After temporarily halting shipments following the video's release last month, the federal agency has now resumed work with the company.

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