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Free fruit club at Shaw's

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Navigating a checkout line at the grocery store can be tough with kids. That's because they're often begging for candy as you're trying to get through the line. Shaw's has a program called the Free Fruit Club. Kids can come to the store and pick out a piece of fruit and get it for free.

When 2-year-old Isabelle comes to the Shaw's in Bristol, there is one thought on her mind.

"She is usually good throughout the shopping trip looking forward to that fruit," dad Tim Jimmo said.

While other Shaw's supermarkets offer kids free fruit as part of the free fruit club, this Shaw's puts baskets of fruit at the cash register for kids to take for free.

"It's a healthy alternative to other things that might be available at the registers," says Randy Thompson, Shaw's store director.

Thompson says the store gives away about 40 apples and bananas a day, which is what is offered in the fruit baskets.

Eating healthy is not always easy to do or even affordable. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 2015, more than 6 million kids didn't have access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Hunger Free Vermont says between 2012 and 2014, 17 percent of Vermont children lived in food insecure homes, that's more than 20,000 Vermont kids who don't have access to enough food.

A bag of apples costs almost $7 compared to 12 bags of popcorn which costs $6. A 16-ounce container of strawberries costs $2.99 compared to a 10-ounce bag of Lays potato chips, which costs less than $2.

Beth Ekroos is a kindergarten teacher at Vergennes Union Elementary. She shops at Shaw's at least once a week. She says given the opportunity, she's found having a choice of fruit can pay off.

"Children love fresh fruit and any opportunity that they have, especially if it's something that they can make a choice, they will choose fresh fruit," Ekroos said.

Shaw's allows one fruit per child. You can find a Free Fruit Club card at any Shaw's grocery store.

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