It’s hardly news that childhood obesity rates in the United States have skyrocketed. Now Hannaford supermarkets are participating in a pilot program, Snack It Up, that’s intended to help reverse that trend. The pilot program includes children in soccer, Cub Scout, and 4-H programs in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts; participating Maine communities are Ellsworth, Gray, Gorham, Minot, Oxford and South Paris.

Some research indicates that unhealthy snacks bear some of the blame for the rise in childhood obesity. Snack it Up, which is supported by Newman’s Own Foundation, hopes to encourage scout, soccer and 4-H leaders to serve healthy snacks to the children who participate in those activities. To help pay for such snacks, the leaders get weekly coupons for a $5 discount on fruits and vegetables at Hannaford supermarkets.

The pilot program was developed by Healthy Kids Out of School, an initiative of ChildObesity180 at Tufts University in Boston.

“The pilot sounded like a really good opportunity for me as a club leader to expose my kids to fruits and vegetables that we might not usually be able to purchase,” Katy Duval, a 4-H club leader in South Paris, Maine, was quoted as saying in a press release about the program. “The kids have reacted really well to the healthy snacks. We were kind of surprised!”

– From staff reports