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Super Hero Gets Kids Moving At Pennsylvania School

Students eating lunch at Springfield Elementary School are going crazy, captivated by the arrival of Saladman. Clad in a green cape, hat and mask, Saladman bounds from table to table in the school cafeteria proclaiming the benefits of eating fresh vegetables. His over-the-top enthusiasm delights the whole room as he passes out samples from the salad bar before enticing the throng of youthful diners to join him for some jumping jacks and pushups.

The children may know that Saladman is actually their very own principal, Mr. Davis, but it hardly matters. They cheer wildly, pumping their fists into the air, moving and grooving along with the music, repeating Saladman’s chant of “sal-lad, sal-lad.”

Saladman, a.k.a. Scott Davis, Principal of Springfield Elementary, gets kids excited about the school’s salad bar. Saladman occasionally visits the cafeteria proclaiming how eating healthy and exercising can help kids become big, strong and smart like the super hero their Principal Mr. Davis never gets to meet!

Every so often Principal Scott Davis’s alter ego makes an appearance at Springfield’s cafeteria where he gets the kids moving while inspiring them to make the colorful salad bar a regular part of their school lunch repertoire. 

“Kids love super heroes and they need role models. Saladman is someone who motivates the kids to make healthy choices.” Said Davis, “There’s more participation in the salad bar and the kids understand better what a well-balanced meal is.”

This small rural elementary school, part of the Palisades School District in the rolling hills of Bucks County, boasts a student body of nearly 300 kindergarten through 5th graders. And while many schools throughout the country are busy adjusting to the new school meal pattern rules, Palisades is way ahead of the curve.

Food Service Director Gerry Giarratana says the new school meal guidelines have set a standard that they have chosen to exceed. “We’re changing the habits that cause obesity in children. Saladman helps us sell healthy lifestyle choices to the kids.”

While Saladman passes out samples of carrots, celery, peppers, and broccoli, he gets the children thinking about how eating healthy makes them strong, like a super hero. Plus, according to Giarratana, “The kids go home after school and talk about Saladman’s visit and the whole family starts thinking about what veggies to have with dinner.”

It’s a way to make lunchtime extra fun. “He’s awesome,” says one of the kids I interview. Others clamor for his autograph and another small handful of carrots. And as he makes his triumphant exit, Saladman, er, Mr. Davis, proudly tells me with a wink, “If Saladman can motivate kids to make healthier choices, his mission is accomplished.”

Apply for a salad bar for your school at Let's Move! is celebrating National Nutrition Month with stories of school cafeterias serving healthy meals across the country. Learn more about the historic, healthy changes to school meals.

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