Guest post on behalf of Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools by Diane Harris, PhD MPH Health Scientist, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools is celebrating National Farm to School Month in October. Since its launch in 2010, Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools has delivered more than 3,500 salad bars to schools. School districts all over the country use salad bars to showcase locally grown, farm-fresh produce as part of farm to school programs. Schools often find that students choose more fruits and vegetables when products are fresh, locally grown, and picked at the peak of their flavor. Kids’ choices are reinforced with educational activities in the cafeteria, classroom, and community. A beautifully stocked salad bar with a rainbow of local fruits and vegetables highlighting farmers and the farms where the products are grown adds to students’ enthusiasm to make healthier choices.
Here are some examples of how salad bars donated by Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools are contributing to farm to school programs:
- North Powder Charter School in North Powder, Oregon, works with Oregon Farm to School and Food Corps to promote Harvest of the Month on their salad bars. Parents are encouraged to have lunch with their children and are kept informed of the monthly highlighted product via flyers with recipes and games.
- Marlington Local School District in Alliance, Ohio, is working with local farmers through a farm to school grant with the Ohio Department of Education, and is showcasing these locally grown produce items to students, staff, and parents. The salad bar assists them in nutrition education and in promoting our Farm- to-School initiative. Their goal of promoting healthy eating options for all staff and students is enhanced through the use of salad bars at each school.
- The Oxford School District in Oxford, Mississippi, received a USDA Farm-to-School Planning grant and is using it to add local fresh foods onto their menu and in their salad bars. The High School Food Club promotes their salad bar.
- Olivet Community Schools in Olivet, Michigan, are in a rural community and have been actively involved for 5 years in the Farm-to-School program. Their Future Farmers of America chapter raises fresh greens, herbs, and strawberries in hydroponic towers in the school green house. The salad bar showcases local fresh melons, apples, peaches, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and greens in the fall of the year. Their salad bar displays these products attractively, making them more appealing and is the selling point for increased fruit and vegetable consumption.
Salad bars are a fantastic way for schools to showcase fresh, great-tasting, locally grown foods, and the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative makes it easy to get one. Any school participating in the National School Lunch Program can apply for a salad bar from Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools. Check out the information on how to apply for a salad bar unit and see additional informational resources on the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools website.