Did you know that a salad bar can offer all of the components of a USDA approved school lunch including, fruit, vegetable, whole grain, and meat/meat alternative? Just add low-fat milk and students have a well-balanced, healthful meal. Since 2010, Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools – part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative – has been providing schools with the tools to set up a fresh, healthy salad bar including the salad bar itself, trays, chillers, pans and tongs. To date over 4,400 salad bars have been granted! Once a school applies, they are added to a waiting list while money accumulates from public donation and sponsors. When the necessary sum is reached (may take up to one year), the Let’s Move initiative sends the materials in 4-6 weeks.
Studies have been conducted to find out how effective these salad bars are in getting kids to select and consume more fruits and vegetables. One such study, conducted by researchers at the University of California found that including salad bars as a lunch option can “significantly increase the frequency of [fruit and vegetable] consumption by elementary-school children living in low-income households.” Another 2014 evaluation by the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition found that most schools saw an over 50% increase in participation as a result of adding a salad bar. Additionally, individual districts are reporting successes. Syracuse City Schools applied and received two salad bars –Food Service Director Kathy Burrill shares her experience here.
As a Parent, What Can You Do?
- Learn more about the initiative—resources for parents are available here.
- Check if your child’s district is already on the list to receive a salad bar. Enter your school’s zip code here to find out.
- If not already on the list, call the school’s main office and to get contact information for the district’s director of food service. Either mail or email a copy of this letter to let him/her know about the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative and that you are interested in supporting him/her in applying for the grant.
- After the application is submitted, offer to share information about the initiative and its potential long term nutrition and academic benefits with the PTA/PTO and/or the district Wellness Committee with the support and approval of the food service director.
- Use your networking resources to recruit community businesses and individuals to support and supply funds.
- When volunteering in the cafeteria consider the Top Ten Tips for Tackling School Food Reform.
For More Information
- How to Make Your Salad Bar Healthy and Popular
- A Salad Bar for Everyone: Finding Funds for a Salad Bar
(2014). Evaluation of the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools Initiative. Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition. http://www.saladbars2schools.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Exec_Summary_Eval_Infographic.pdf
Slusser, W.; Cumberland, W.; Browdy, B; Lange, L.; Neumann, C. (2007) A school salad bar increases frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption among children living in low-income households. Public Health and Nutrition; 10:1490-1496. doi: 10.1017/S1368980007000444