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Enthusiastic for Salad

It was an unusual chant for a schoolyard: “Salad!  Salad!  Salad!”  But that’s what I heard from the students at Fremont Elementary in Long Beach, California as they cheered the opening of the school’s – and region’s – very first school salad bar.

I visited Fremont last week as part of National School Lunch Week.  Fremont, a socio-economically diverse elementary school just south of Los Angeles, has an organic garden tended by students, a brand new salad bar manned by a team of salad bar “ambassadors,” a special healthy-food-focused curriculum for all 4th graders called “Days of Taste,” and an annual jog-a-thon, making it a model program for encouraging healthy lifestyles in our future leaders.

Fremont is a public school, and, like others, its resources are limited.  But with a little creativity, ingenuity, and tenacity – from the school district, from a motivated principal, from a committed corps of parents, and from an extraordinary local chef named Paul Buchanan – Fremont has, over the past decade, inspired a lot of kids (and their parents) to change the way they think about food.

Chef Paul Buchanan got involved with Fremont more than ten years ago, and, in addition to overseeing the garden, he helps spearhead Days of Taste, an annual two day program for all 4th graders.  They visit the local farmers market and learn how to read food labels, how to make healthy recipes, and how to relay that information to their parents back home.

What struck me was how much fun the kids were having – their enthusiasm for eating food that’s healthy was tangible.  And thanks to Let’s Move! Chefs Move to Schools, schools across the country are building programs just like Fremont’s.

You can get a glimpse of what I saw at Fremont here: