It’s no surprise to hear that Charlotte, N.C.-based Dole Food Co. will be promoting bananas aggressively for back-to-school.

But it’s one kind of banana in particular that has gained promotional steam in recent years — baby bananas. They’re the “ideal back-to-school staple,” as Dole’s director of corporate communications, Bil Goldfield, phrases it. 

“Not only as a nutrient-dense fruit, easily grabbed and packed in kids’ brown bags and lunch boxes, but also in sandwiches, salads and as after-school snacks,” he said.

Other Dole back-to-school plans this year include a salad and meal kit promotion aimed at college students and parents trying to adjust to the busy fall routine.

Specifically, the items are being promoted as a base for wraps, sandwiches and small bites in on-the-go lunches. 

“What started at restaurants years ago – offering customers the chance to order salads wrapped in various types of tortillas – is now a mainstream at-home trend,” Goldfield said.

Dole’s approach to back-to-school in general has broadened over the years beyond promoting bananas and other whole or cut fruit as the perfect sandwich companion.

“This year, more than ever, we’ve added a larger focus on the whole family transitioning to the busier fall schedule by promoting our salad kits as an easy, compelling base for weekday meals and as wraps, sandwiches and lunchbox and after-school snacks.”

Also new for Dole is a series of recipe thought-starters on how to use the new Dole Sheet Pan Meal Starter Kits—a blend of farm-fresh, washed-and-cut vegetables, spices and seasoning designed to be combined with a favorite lean protein—to create elevated, nutrient-dense wraps, burgers, soups and other back-to-school recipes that even picky kids will like, Goldfield said.

“We’re excited about this expanded product and promotional positioning since it places vegetables at the center of the meal, which is exceedingly rare for a kid’s lunch. But as a parent, I appreciate it even more since it encourages creativity and healthier eating while still making it fun.”

As the back-to-school period in August and September has evolved from a kids-only eating and promotional occasion to a back-to-the-routine time for the whole family, its importance has grown and given Dole the opportunity to spotlight more Dole fresh products, including not only fruits but vegetables and packaged salad and meal kits, Goldfield said.