Valencia, California-based Sunkist Growers has a variety of products that are perfect for back-to-school, says Christina Ward, the company’s communications director.

“For back-to-school lunches, kids — and parents — can count on Valencia oranges, Sunkist Delite mandarins and Sunkist California Star Ruby grapefruit,” Ward says.

Sunkist Delite mandarins are easy-to-peel and perfect for the on-the-go lifestyle, she says. They’re the perfect-sized fruit for kids, and they’re fun to peel and share on the playground and in the cafeteria.

The Sunkist Valencia orange and California Star Ruby grapefruit are a major source of flavonoids, compounds that may be beneficial for brain health, Ward says. They’re also excellent sources of Vitamin C.

“While the Sunkist Valencia orange is travel-friendly and easy-to-peel, there are other tasty ways to incorporate this sweet and healthy treat into kids’ lunches,” Ward says.

Her favorite? The Sunkist Orange Yogurt Donut (find it at

“It’s super easy to make and can zest up any lunch box,” she says.

Also on tap for back-to-school for Sunkist, the company is partnering with the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation charity, Ward says. With Aug. 2 being National Lemonade Day, there’s a natural push on lemons for a great cause.

With Alex’s Lemonade Stand, kids hold a lemonade stand to raise money to fight childhood cancer. Kids or their classrooms, schools or groups they belong to can register at to receive a kit that includes lesson plans, classroom activities and other information and access to a personal fundraising coach. Kids who register also receive and online fundraising page they can share in emails or school newsletters.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand has raised more than $150 million for childhood cancer research.


Eating better — and having fun doing it

For Westlake Village, California-based Dole Food Co., the traditional back-to-school period from August through October has been a key focus of recipe development and marketing programs aimed at getting kids to eat better, says Bil Goldfield, the company’s director of corporate communications.

“While the summer months are usually linked to light and healthy eating, the early fall months represent a great opportunity to extend our healthy-eating message as kids and parents get back into the daily schedule, returning to the daily routine of balancing school and work,” Goldfield says. “The trend of increasing child obesity is alarming and a concern to all of us at Dole.”

Much of Dole’s focus is on helping busy parents prepare healthier meals for their children. This is critically important during the back-to-school period, Goldfield says, when parents are diligently packing lunch boxes to avoid buying quick—and often nutrient-light—meals at school.

In the past, back-to-school promotions have traditionally focused on young children or K-12 ages, but there’s a great opportunity to extend the healthy-eating message to the whole family, Goldfield says.

In recent years, Dole has marketed simple, easy-to-prepare recipes that encourage college students to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Simple Dole recipes like the Fruity Breakfast Burrito and Banana Breakfast Sandwiches are a great way to encourage healthier eating habits on the run to class or in the college dormitory, offering a quick, delicious alternative to vending machine junk food and other poor snack decisions.

About 41% of elementary school students bring a packed lunch to school, but research from Tufts University and The University of Texas at Austin has found most packed lunches are of low dietary quality, containing processed snack foods, sugary drinks and empty calories while lacking in vegetables and whole grains. 

“While eating healthy can be as simple as packing a single Dole banana into every lunchbox, parents can keep lunchtime interesting and prevent boredom by leveraging Dole’s distinctive recipes, such as the Hoot Owl Sandwiches, which pack five different kinds of Dole fresh fruits and vegetables in a fun, creative presentation while still an easy and quick make,” Goldfield says.  

While not exclusively about back-to-school, Dole’s multiyear nutritional collaboration with the Walt Disney Company is entirely aimed at empowering children and families to eat healthier, Goldfield adds.

In 2019, Dole continued its yearlong “Powering the Hero Within” initiative with a campaign themed to Captain Marvel, and earlier this summer the company launched a new chapter themed to Disney’s The Lion King. A special focus of these campaigns is putting favorite Disney, Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar characters directly on millions of Dole bananas, pineapple and other fresh produce.

“Seeing favorite characters on produce will hopefully appeal to the whole family and lead to fruit and vegetables becoming a regular part of the daily lunch routine,” Goldfield says.

For the remainder of 2019, Dole will be combining a series of original entree, side dish, salad, snack, smoothie and dessert recipes celebrating The Lion King and another Disney movie, Frozen 2 with an assortment of recipes created for holidays, families with kids, and vegan and gluten-free consumers.