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Lo-res_INGCHYSS0060-SChildhood obesity is a serious and global problem. For parents, shopping with hungry kids who demand sugary snacks sometimes might seem like an equally vexing challenge. In an effort to help resolve both concerns, several grocery store chains are offering a new kind of appealing giveaway. Specifically, these grocers set up stands that display a range of fruits, with signs offering the produce for free to children under a certain age.

The idea is that a banana or apple at the start of the shopping trip can keep kids from getting hungry and cranky, and thus make the shopping experience more pleasant for their parents. The fruit options are more healthful and less troublesome than other options, such as free cookies or doughnuts that some in-store bakeries provide for young shoppers. Because they are free, they also offer notable benefits over packaged snacks that parents might open up in the aisles, even before they check out.

The fruit giveaway experiments have expanded globally, with chains in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia all taking part. Although many responses have been positive, including parents’ praise for stores that help them encourage healthful eating by their children, others question the tactic. The key complaint has been hygiene, in that there are few options for washing fruit like apples, peaches, and pears before children bit down.

Still, the generally positive responses have led at least one chain to estimate that it will give away approximately 1 million pieces of fruit over the next year.

Discussion Question:

  1. What are the benefits and the costs of giving away free fruit to children? Which are greater?

 Source: Tom Ryan, “Does it Pay for Grocers to Give Free Fruit to Kids?” Retail Wire, February 4, 2016