Fruits of Thought
PMA's Big '5 A Day' Move
The PMA has announced the intention to form an independent charitable foundation in order to promote the “5 A Day” program. This announcement came as a shock to many industry leaders who have been meeting repeatedly, along with PMA, under the auspices of the National Institute of Health to discuss ways to sustain the existing program in California while also expanding the program to cover the whole country.
“5 A Day” is an unusual program. The principle is simple: to encourage people to eat or drink at least five servings a day of fresh, frozen, canned or juiced fruits and vegetables. The program began in California under a grant from the National Cancer Institute to teach people the benefits of increasing produce consumption. This grant is due to run out of funds in July.
The educational aspect of the program is essential. It is what gives the program credibility in the eyes of the media, and it is what makes the proposed foundation charitable and thus eligible for grants from governmental agencies and private foundations.
During the discussions on “5 A Day”, two basic viewpoints had arisen. On one side, there were those who felt that the “5 A Day” message should suffuse all industry organizations and programs – that every commodity board and trade association should integrate the “5 A Day” message into its own programs.
This viewpoint held that this approach would eliminate the need for an expensive new bureaucracy to administer the program and also provide maximum exposure for the program through all the existing programs and organizations. PMA took a different position. Its leaders, though agreeing that the message should be used in the materials of many organizations, felt that some kind of national organizing body was necessary.
When it became clear that the situation had reached an impasse and was not going to be resolved through further discussion, PMA made its move. It announced the new foundation, having already secured the support, both financial and moral, of many leading produce organizations.
In so doing, PMA in effect simply declared victory for its viewpoint. In truth, it was an adroit move. Other organizations were simply outmaneuvered on this one. And now the produce industry has a new national organization.
Of course establishing an organization is an awful lot easier than achieving much with it. And the industry needs to watch carefully. “5 A Day” is such an exciting concept it is easy to get caught up in the idea of the program. But the new foundation needs to deal with many questions:
I have to say I admire what the PMA did. They grabbed the ball and are working hard to put this one into action. But in taking action, they also take responsibility. Making this one work is a very big challenge indeed. pb