Here, have a banana
Local supermarket chain offering free fruit to children
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.”
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.