Here, have a ba­nana

Lo­cal su­per­mar­ket chain of­fer­ing free fruit to chil­dren

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - BY MELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

For some su­per­mar­kets, of­fer­ing a child a treat is com­mon.

Of­ten times it comes in the form of a cookie from the store’s bak­ery. But for Pow­ell’s Su­per­mar­kets in Bay Roberts, Har­bour Grace and Car­bon­ear, they de­cided to of­fer more healthy op­tions.

Dar­ryl Spiel­man moved to New­found­land late last year with his wife and young daugh­ter. They came from Al­berta.

With some 15 years ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with pro­duce, he was a fit­ting choice for the po­si­tion of pro­duce man­ager at the Bay Roberts Pow­ell’s.

It was Spiel­man who de­cided of­fer­ing chil­dren a fruit or veg­etable of their choice while in the store would be ben­e­fi­cial.

“I just thought, Pow­ell’s doesn’t have a points sys­tem or any­thing,” Spiel­man told The Com­pass last week. “We have to make sure kids are healthy.”

Af­ter run­ning the idea by the up­per man­age­ment team, who were im­me­di­ately on board, Spiel­man set out to put a smile on ev­ery child’s face who walked through the doors of Pow­ell’s.

On Thurs­day, Feb. 4, a busy Pow­ell’s in Bay Roberts kept Spiel­man on his toes. But around 2 p.m. there wasn’t a child to be seen.

In­ter­act­ing with cus­tomers, he kept glanc­ing around to make sure if any chil­dren en­tered the store, they would get of­fered a nice snack.

A sign and dis­play sits at the front of the pro­duce sec­tion. It reads, “Pow­ell’s Su­per­mar­ket in­vites you to take a piece of fruit, on us, for your kids to eat while you shop. We wish to en­cour­age healthy snack­ing and make your shop­ping trip a bit eas­ier.”

Sev­eral cus­tomers com­mented on the sign as they looked at the ap­ples be­hind it. But it was when young TJ Mur­phy stopped by the sec­tion that Spiel­man lit up.

Both TJ and Spiel­man picked up a ba­nana and mim­icked tele­phones. “Hello?” TJ said as he held the ba­nana to his ear. It was an in­ter­ac­tion that Spiel­man wishes to en­cour­age for ev­ery­one that works in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion. And one he is proud to do daily.

“I wanted to do it for the kids,” he ex­plained. “They love it. You just see them, look­ing so joy­ful.”

In the dis­play, there are ap­ples, ba­nanas, or­anges, nec­tarines, pears and a few other op­tions. But for a child, Spiel­man is un­likely to say no if those don’t fit the bill.

“If a child wants cherry toma­toes, I have no prob­lem giv­ing them a cou­ple of those,” he ex­plained. “I’d open a bag of car­rots if a kid wants one.”

Al­though the snacks are for the chil­dren, Spiel­man is try­ing to en­cour­age a healthy life­style for fam­i­lies. He is work­ing on bring­ing in or­ganic op­tions and re­cently started stock­ing kale. The chil­dren can even snack on some of that, if they want.

“A lot of peo­ple here eat Sun­day din­ner, with all that salt,” he said. “So I’m just try­ing to make healthy eat­ing an op­tion.”

When Spiel­man worked at an­other gro­cery chain in Al­berta, the op­tion for free fruit for chil­dren was noth­ing spe­cial. But be­ing one of the first gro­cery stores in the lo­cal area to pro­mote it, the com­pany has been get­ting a lot of pos­i­tive feed­back.

He also would like to see or­ga­ni­za­tions and com­pa­nies in the prov­ince of­fer vend­ing ma­chines with healthy items, like fruit and veg­gies or other snacks. But since they are not avail­able in the Con­cep­tion Bay North re­gion, he’s happy to give chil­dren that piece of fruit or a veg­etable while they shop with their par­ents.

As Spiel­man said good­bye to TJ and his fam­ily, ba­nana still in hand, he ex­plained that is why he did it — the smiles on the faces of those chil­dren.

“They don’t know it’s free,” he said. “They’re just happy to say they got a ba­nana.”

PHOTO BY MELISSA JENK­INS/THE COM­PASS

Dar­ryl Spiel­man (right), pro­duce man­ager at Pow­ell’s in Bay Roberts, talks on a ba­nana phone with TJ Mur­phy at the store Thurs­day, Feb. 4.

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