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Two Million Students Eating More Fruit and Veggies at School Salad Bars Every Day: Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools is Making it Happen!

How can schools get kids to fill up their lunch trays with fresh fruits and vegetables? Offer a salad bar in the school cafeteria!  Salad bars offer an enticing array of fresh fruits and vegetables and kids get to choose what they want to eat.  When children have access to a salad bar they eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.  Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools is making this happen nationwide by providing salad bars to schools.   

Students at Adams Elementary School in Santa Maria, California love selecting fresh veggies from their salad bars.

Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools was founded by the Chef Ann FoundationUnited Fresh Start Foundation, National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance, and Whole Foods Market to support First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative.  Since the establishment of the partnership in 2010, the initiative has donated 4,000 salad bars to schools nationwide, benefitting more than 2 million children.

The Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools website is the central hub to learn about salad bars and how to apply for one. It also includes an at-a-glance map of the country indicating schools that have received salad bars and schools that are waiting.  With assistance from the Chef Ann Foundation, the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools website also provides access to a comprehensive operational support site for schools that need help with salad bar implementation.   Visitors to the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools website will also find our blog, The Mix, which includes school success stories and tips related to salad bar implementation, as well as results from our first evaluation, showing the widespread benefits of salad bars in schools.

Loading up on broccoli is daily occurrence at the Calvin M. Rodwell Elementary School in Baltimore.  Rodwell Elementary was the site of the announcement made by Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools that salad bars have now been donated to 4,000 schools nationwide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the co-chair of the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance, and the lead federal agency partner for Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, has played a critical role in the partnership.  Working with public health departments across the country, CDC has promoted school salad bars as a strategy for developing healthy school food environments, and has provided resources to schools in states throughout the U.S. 

Most impressive, however, has been the support of School Food Service Directors, many of whom are seeing the benefits of salad bars first hand.

Linda Waters, Food Service Director at Gilmer County schools in Georgia has seen first hand how salad bars can change the school lunch program: “if you give children choices you’re going to get better participation.”

Misti Figuero, Food Service Director at Cardinal Ritter High School in Indiana was forwarded the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools grant application by a friend and she says it has changed her program.  “It’s very visible, which helps. When they’re [students] walking into the cafeteria to go to the lunch line, they walk past the salad bar.”

In some cases school salad bars have helped create a bridge with school garden programs like in the Kittery, Maine School District. Nutrition Services Director Wendy Collins notes that since introducing the salad bars, students have become increasingly excited about working in their greenhouse and gardens. As a result, school produce yields have risen and kids are overjoyed to see and taste the fruits of their labor on the salad bar.

Ann Cooper, Nutrition Services Director at Boulder Valley School District in Colorado, has seen over the last 5 years kids making fruits and veggies a staple in their daily meal. “It’s now just part of their day, the majority of the kids are eating fresh fruit and veggies every day now and hopefully this will evolve into a life-long habit.”

The salad bar at Western High School in Anaheim, California is a big hit.  Students enjoy loading their trays with a variety of fresh fruits and veggies every day.

Thanks to Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, schools are serving more fresh produce every day, and salad bars are demonstrating that kids will make half their plate fruits and vegetables when given the opportunity to make their own healthy choices.

Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools is making a difference!