CONCORD, Mass., Sept. 15 /PRNewswire/ — Did you know that fewer than ten percent of Americans eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day? Welch's second annual P.A.C.K. Week: Pack Assorted Colors for Kids Week — September 22-26, 2008 — helps kick off a new school year with a fun and engaging way to pack more colorful fruits and veggies into children's diets, and that means more healthful nutrients — vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients too. And while P.A.C.K. Week only lasts for five days, the broader goal of this educational program is to show how easy and important it is for parents and schools to help children increase their fruit and vegetable consumption year-round.

This public health initiative is a collaboration between Welch's and Produce for Better Health Foundation in celebration of September's "National Fruits & Veggies — More Matters Month(R)." P.A.C.K. Week is a simple five- day program that outlines easy ways to include a colorful array of fruits and vegetables — in all forms — into children's snacks and lunches.

To help children find fruits and veggies that they like in all color groups and to have fun in the process, each day of P.A.C.K. Week has been assigned a different color:

Monday, September 22: Pack Purple Day

The week kicks off by focusing on the most overlooked category of fruits and vegetables: purple/blue. Only three percent of Americans' intake of produce comes from this category; yet, these fruits and vegetables provide a variety of nutrients not found in other colors. Purple/blue color is a clue to an abundance of protective natural antioxidants — the purple/blue fruits and veggies tend to be among the highest in antioxidant power. These nutrients are being studied for their ability to help promote cardiovascular and cognitive health and to help protect our health in a variety of other ways as well.

A simple and kid-friendly way to "pack purple" during P.A.C.K. Week is with Welch's 100% Grape Juice made from Concord grapes — just four ounces of this antioxidant-rich juice counts as one serving or 1/2 cup of fruit. Other delicious representatives of the purple/blue category include blueberries, blackberries, raisins, and plums.

Tuesday, September 23: Pack White Day

While white, tan and brown fruits and vegetables may not be vibrant in color, they are extremely popular and full of vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Bananas are the most popular choice in this family, and contain the mineral potassium, which has been studied for its ability to help maintain healthy blood pressure. But for a change on September 23, try introducing other white alternatives such as brown pears or cauliflower.

Wednesday, September 24: Pack Red Day

The midway point in P.A.C.K. Week is for red fruits and vegetables, which account for 24 percent of Americans' fruit and vegetable intake.

In school, red apples are almost as common as books and chalk, making it a natural choice for "Pack Red Day" on September 24. But you can switch things up a bit by introducing red pepper slices or tomatoes, each of which are excellent sources of vitamin C, which is necessary for a healthy immune system.

Thursday, September 25: Pack Yellow/Orange Day

Oranges are among the most popular of all fruits, so it's no wonder 24 percent of Americans' fruit and vegetable consumption comes from the yellow/orange category.

But on September 25, keep the excitement of P.A.C.K. Week alive by introducing something new to the lunch box. Baby carrots and dried apricots are delicious and a cinch to pack — they also get an A+ for being an excellent source of vitamin A, which helps keep eyes and skin healthy.

Friday, September 26: Pack Green Day

Celebrate the finale of P.A.C.K. Week by including the green family of fruits and vegetables. It's the most popular of categories among Americans, accounting for more than one-quarter of all fruit and vegetable consumption.

Green apples and green grapes are always good choices because they're packed with nutrients and easy to take on-the-go. But on September 26, shake lunch up by packing broccoli florets, sugar snap or snow peas, or celery sticks — all of which contain fiber, which helps regulate the body's digestive system.

"P.A.C.K. Week is a fun and engaging way to kick start the school year with healthy habits," said Casey Lewis, MS, RD and marketing manager, Health & Nutrition, at Welch's. "By assigning a specific color category to each day of the week, P.A.C.K. Week helps parents and kids focus on the importance of incorporating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables into their meals. No matter the form — fresh, frozen, canned, dried, or 100% juice — all fruits and vegetables help maintain a healthy weight and possibly reduce the risk of many chronic diseases."

In September 2007, school nurses signed up more than 2,300 schools nationwide to take part in the inaugural P.A.C.K. Week, and participation for 2008 is expected to increase.

"We were thrilled with last year's P.A.C.K. Week participation from schools all across America," said Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., president and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation. "This program, created by Welch's, engages parents and children by showing them an easy way to eat a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. This, combined with plenty of physical activity, helps maintain an overall healthy lifestyle."

Fruits & Veggies — More Matters is a national health call-to-action aimed at inspiring Americans to increase their daily fruit and vegetable consumption. Welch's is an active member of Produce for Better Health Foundation and is committed to helping Americans eat more fruit by providing wholesome and delicious fruit-based solutions to families.

For more information on P.A.C.K. Week, or to get involved in the program, visit http://www.welchs.com. For more information about Fruits & Veggies — More Matters, visit http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.

SOURCE Welch's

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