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Birds Eye, nonprofits team up for SMS program to drive healthier meal choices

Consumer packaged goods brand Birds Eye and nonprofits Partnership for Healthier America and Share Our Strength have teamed up for a text messaging program offering families tools and information to make healthier meal choices.

The program is called Dinner Made Easy and targets low-income Americans. Birds Eye is a sponsor and will provide those who sign up with a coupon as well as a chance to win weekly cash prizes.

?Part of Partnership for a Healthier America?s mission is to make the healthy choice the easy choice and part of that means getting information to consumers that want it in way that is best for them,? said Drew Nannis, chief marketing officer at Partnership for a Healthier America, Washington. ?We believe that mobile is another tool that we can use to deliver our mission.

?The penetration of the technology is ever increasing for all populations and we don?t see that slowing down,? he said.

?Part of the importance here is the power of the response rate that text campaigns seem to bring.?

Guiding food shopping
The organizations are using mobile as one of their tools in the campaign to end childhood obesity. They are leveraging SoundBite Communications? text messaging platform and mobile marketing expertise for the effort.

This is the first time Partnership for a Healthier America has used text messaging or mobile as part of its outreach efforts.

The initial pilot program kicked off April 22 and will run through the fall of 2013. Partnership for a Healthier America is planning additional pilot text programs throughout the year.

Users who sign up for the Dinner Made Easy program will receive text messages with cost-saving ideas and tips to make healthy food choices, links to easy recipes and other information to help guide their food shopping experiences.

The program will be targeted at consumers participating in Share Our Strength?s Cooking Matter program. The nationwide program offers courses for adults, kids and teens to help build a strong foundation in nutrition, cooking and household budgeting.

More intimate relationships
Attendees of these courses will receive hand-out cards, see posters and hear from the teachers about the text messaging program. Interested attendees will be able to text a keyword either in English or Spanish to a short code to opt-in to receive the messages.

Participants will receive approximately eight messages a month with tips on how to stretch their dollars, what to buy in the grocery store, links to mobile sites with recipes and other information.

The organizations point to research from the Pew Research Center that shows text messages can be an effective way to connect with low-income families as households making less than $30,000 send and receive an average of about 60 texts a day. This is double the number of texts sent and received per day for households earning more than $75,000.

?Text penetrates at a much higher level, there is a much more intimate relationship. between the reader and the sender,? Mr. Nannis said.

?Since our message is to change your behavior or to give people the information that they need, it made sense to engage in a technology with that deep of a connection with the end user,? he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York