Would you like fruit with that? Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools Initiative.

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October 8, 2012 by jaherber

jaherber

     According to the mission of the Salad Bars to Schools initiative, any K-12 school districts supported by the National School Lunch Program are eligible for a grant funded salad bar in an effort to introduce kids to fruits and vegetables.  The grants goal is to put 6000 salad bars into eligible schools by the end of 2013. According to its website, only 1,454 bars have reached schools as of October 2012.

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Though, this grass roots effort is to be lauded, a new strategy may need to be explored in order to bolster progress. First and foremost, I would maintain the current criteria for eligibility as it is, but with some new options for improvement.  One suggestion would be to add the option of a smaller salad bar for those schools that are either of a smaller student population or lack funds to sustain and support a full size…

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3 thoughts on “Would you like fruit with that? Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools Initiative.

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Jennifer,

    Interesting post on salad bars – particularly the information from Smarter Lunchrooms. I am a huge fan of Brain Wansink’s research and love how these tips are so simple and almost zero-cost but have a huge impact on the kids’ choices in the cafeteria. When I consulted with a few schools in Tennessee, these were the exact types of recommendations that I made, being consistent with the significant budget-concerns facing school nutrition programs.

    You didn’t mention anything about food safety and/or hygiene, which I think are often controversial topics for school salad bars, especially with younger children. On the one hand, we all agree that it is vitally important to introduce children at a young age to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. However, we also have to think about the risks when young children are serving themselves from a salad bar, potentially sneezing on, touching and contaminating the produce. I suppose schools could hire a staff member to serve the children, but that seems like it would just raise the cost of the salad bar. I wonder what schools are doing to combat this issue? Or maybe it’s just my background in food science/safety that makes me paranoid about these types of things…

    Elizabeth S.

  2. amittnac says:

    Jennifer, I really enjoyed your post about Salad Bars in Schools. I love your idea about providing smaller schools with smaller salad bars, thereby allowing more schools to have bars, thus impacting more schools/children- brilliant! I also think that providing training to employees via a marketing video is a cost effective way to make the salad bar foods more enticing / increase sales.

    Elizabeth, in response to your question about salad bar sanitation/hygiene issues, I referenced a couple strategies that schools are currently using to address this issue in my post about school salad bars- “ a school in St. Paul, MN provides hand sanitizer that children can use before they serve themselves, uses smaller salad bar bins and provides dressing in squeeze bottles in order to minimize mess, and replaces serving utensils multiple times over the course of a meal. Moreover, schools in Burlington, VT bring salad bar units into the kindergarten classrooms at the start of the school year so that students can learn about how to use them (i.e. proper sanitation, how to portion food, etc.) (1).” Similarly, schools in Alaska who have brought salad bars into the lunchrooms are encouraged (by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Food Safety and Sanitation Program) to have school-wide pre-meal “hand washing policies in place, “ and to provide salad bar hygiene instruction in the classrooms before the salad bars are introduced (2). I wonder how hygienic the salad bars actually are even if/when these strategies are implemented…?

    1) Getting Kids to Eat Healthy. 2010
    http://www.nypost.com/p/lifestyle/food/getting_kids_to_eat_healthy_6tj2vVy4d17dp8Vg7dFuOI
    2) The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Food Safety and Sanitation Program: http://www.dec.alaska.gov/eh/fss/Food/Docs/Fact%20Sheets/SchoolSaladBarSafety%20FINAL.pdf

  3. blistenfelt says:

    This summer I attended a coalition meeting for NC Farm-to-School partners, many of who are heavily involved in school salad bar initiatives. Safety is a HUGE concern for salad bars in schools and something that I heard discussed often whenever salad bars were mentioned. Dr. Ben Chapman is a food safety professor at NC State who is heavily involved with safety of salad bars and other Farm-to-School (and Farm-to-Institution) programs. He participates in the Farm-to-School coalition and other groups to make sure that safety is fully addressed whenever salad bars, school gardens, etc are desired. Having a food safety scientist directly involved with public health, schools, and farmers should help North Carolina have a much stronger system for implementing successful and safe avenues to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in children and adults.

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