The third Annual Whole Grain Sampling Day is set for April 2, and a number of restaurants, foodservice organizations, supermarkets and more have already signed on to participate by offering special promotions or no cost whole grain items to their patrons on that day.

Organized by Boston-based non-profit Oldways and its Whole Grains Council WGC, last year's event encouraged millions of Americans to taste whole grains, according to a news release.

"Most people only need to try a new whole grain to realize they like it," said Cynthia Harriman, director of Food and Nutrition Strategies for the Whole Grains Council and Oldways. "This means that the best way to increase whole grain consumption and nudge people to better health is to find ways to help everyone try more whole grains .We invite the entire food industry to celebrate Whole Grain Sampling Day with us this year."

Among the first partners signed up to participate in this year's event are McDonald's, the National Restaurant Association, Compass Group, Barilla, Healthy Dining Finder, and the American Institute of Cancer Research. Past partners have included Arby's, several supermarket chains, Cooking Light magazine and many manufacturers. There are no fees or contracts in order to join.

Ideas for participation include:

  • Food Trucks. Acting as mobile sampling vehicles, food trucks from across the country are signing on to take part by highlighting whole grain items already on the menu from buckwheat noodles to whole grain breads; sampling brand new whole grain options; providing BOGO offers, and swapping out refined grain choices for whole grain.
  • Restaurants and Foodservice. Brands of all sizes can participate by highlighting existing whole grain menu items; offering a free dessert or beverage when a guest purchases a dish with whole grains; holding a cooking demo with free samples; distributing coupons; and more.
  • Supermarkets. Many supermarket dietitians are planning festivities such as cooking demos; in-store sampling; coupons; scheduling Whole Grain Store Tours; TV appearances and more. Registered Dietitians can sign up for the Oldways Nutrition Exchange and download a free Whole Grain Sampling Day Tool Kit for ideas/resources.
  • Manufacturers. Food companies can take advantage of WGC's Matchmaking Services which connect manufacturers with supermarket partners for sampling and other events; offer special coupons; contribute whole grain products to WGC's blogger ambassador gift packs; run a sweepstakes or giveaway; introduce a new product; or create a special event.

The WGC is listing all participants on its website starting in early February and broadcasting news to its newsletter subscribers and social media contacts. A Twitter conversation is also being held using the hashtag #SampleWholeGrains.

To participate or for more information, contact Danita Boyce, WGC, at 617-896-4880 or Danita@oldwayspt.org.

Read more about health and nutrition initiatives.

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