How did you celebrate National School Lunch Week? It may have come and gone without you noticing last week. But a major brand and retailer celebrated the occasion by handing out thousands of coupons to help schoolchildren and their families save money on healthy food.

It was part of a partnership between Bayer and Dollar General to, in their words, “help K-12 school districts around the country provide nutritional support for kids and their families outside of traditional school hours.”

School districts and organizations in Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania received 100,000 coupons to distribute to students. The coupons offer 50% off any fresh produce item at Dollar General valued at $5 or less, and $2 off any Bayer Flintstones Vitamins, valid through the end of November. Communities receiving the coupons were identified with help from the International Fresh Produce Association, which works with local school nutrition programs to increase children’s access to fresh fruit and vegetables.

The program is meant to be a win-win for everyone involved. For Bayer, it supports the company’s stated mission of “Health for All, Hunger for None” – and promotes the purchase of its Flintstones vitamins.


For Dollar General, it helps reframe the retailer’s longstanding reputation as a place for unhealthy packaged foods. While the stated rationale for making the coupons valid only at Dollar General was that “75% of the U.S. population located within five miles of a Dollar General store,” it also helps position Dollar General as a good place to shop for healthy food. The dollar store chain has been adding more fresh produce to more stores in recent years. It says fruits and vegetables are now available in more than 4,400 stores, and plans are underway to expand that to more than 10,000 stores over the next several years, with a particular focus on food deserts, where affordable, healthy foods can be hard to find.

And, of course, the program is a win for the recipients of the coupons as well. The companies cite statistics that only one in ten American adults gets enough produce in their daily diet. They hope to change that for the next generation by encouraging healthy habits while they’re young.

It’s also a rare instance of a coupon that’s meant specifically for fresh produce. It’s a common complaint among coupon users that “there are never any coupons for healthy foods,” since many discounts are instead for packaged, processed products. And many shoppers say they would buy more fresh produce if they could pay less. A report a few years by FMI – The Food Industry Association found that a majority of shoppers look for deals in the produce section, which FMI concluded “underscores once more the importance of value when purchasing fresh produce.” A couple of years earlier, a survey by the nonprofit Produce for Better Health Foundation found that nearly half of all shoppers ranked coupons at the top of their list, when asked what would get them to buy and eat more produce.

And, lest anyone express concern about whether discounted produce at the dollar store is worth the savings, yet another recent report found that dollar stores’ fresh offerings were just as good as the more expensive alternatives available at traditional grocery stores.

So 100,000 kids and their families stand to benefit from this new program that aims to make fresh, healthy foods more attractive and more affordable. “Partnerships like this are critical to breaking down barriers and helping families, beyond the school, access nutritious choices for their kids,” Bayer Vegetable Seeds president Inci Dannenberg said in a statement. And if the idea of offering coupons for fresh produce catches on – you may someday be able to save money on healthier purchases as well.

Image source: Dollar General

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