Paul Hendel, with supervisor Joanne James and store manager Matthew...

Paul Hendel, with supervisor Joanne James and store manager Matthew Hickey, in a Rockville Centre McDonald’s. (March 26, 2012) Credit: Jason Andrew

Here's a challenge for nonprofits on Long Island: Can you come up with a project that will entice consumers to think about eating more healthfully?

If you can, McDonald's has a little something extra for you -- $5,000 to conduct your program.

The company Tuesday began a nutrition education campaign that invites nonprofits to submit their ideas for programs to encourage customers to make healthy food choices.

Paul Hendel, owner of 19 McDonald's restaurants in the metro area -- including outlets in Rockville Centre and Valley Stream -- is among the chain's local operators who came up with the idea known as the McDonald's Nutrition Network.

Hendel said the initiative is an offshoot of McDonald's new national Happy Meal ad campaign, which makes people aware that Happy Meals have 20 percent fewer calories these days.

"Every [food] organization needs to think about offering healthy choices," Hendel said.

Nonprofits can apply at McDNYMetroNutritionNetwork.com. Applications will be accepted until June 1. Click here for more details.

Nonprofits selected will be notified in mid-July, and will have until the end of the year to conduct their programs. McDonald's is sending out 2,000 applications in the tristate area in the next few days.

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