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DC Students Benefit from Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools

Last week First Lady Mrs. Obama was at CentroNía's DC Bilingual Public Charter School in Washington, DC to launch Let’s Move in Childcare. DC Bilingual was also the 2nd school in DC to receive a salad bar as part of the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign. The first salad bar was such a success that after 6 months they requested a second for younger students in the elementary school. Now, a total of 27 public and charter schools in DC have received salad bars from Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools during the last year through contributions from Dole Food Company, Whole Foods Markets, United Fresh Produce Foundation, Cambro Manufacturing Company, and Vollrath.

Schools across the country are demonstrating that children significantly increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables when given a variety of choices in a school salad bar. When offered multiple fruit and vegetable choices, children respond by trying new items, incorporating greater variety into their diets, and increasing their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables.

DC Bilingual Food and Nutrition Director Beatriz Zuluaga uses the salad bar daily to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to some 600 elementary school students year-round, including during the summer feeding program. Ms. Zuluaga says, “The most important thing is giving children choice. With the salad bar they are more adventurous with trying new foods. Now parents tell me kids are even asking for salad at home.”

DC Bilingual works with the DC Farm to School Network to source fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers when possible. The school is currently serving local strawberries, peas and lettuce. This winter, DC Farm to School Network is planning a salad bar workshop for DC schools to help more schools adopt salad bars.

The first DC school to receive a salad bar was Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School. The response from students, school officials and parents has been very positive. The salad bar helped Stokes Charter School bring many of their wellness priorities to life in the school cafeteria. Everyday, the students line up at the salad bar to fill their plates with fresh fruits and vegetables. Food Service Director and chef Lisa Dobbs notes, “The salad bar is the best training tool available for teaching kids to eat fruits and vegetables. If I put a vegetable on the salad bar first, the kids can pick it up and try it without being forced. Later when it appears again on the lunch line they will eat it because they had a chance to taste it already on the salad bar.”

Both DC Bilingual and Elsie Whitlow Stokes Charter Schools have hosted USDA officials, members of Congress and their staff, and national and local media to showcase their salad bars and highlight how their salad bars are increasing student access and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. These schools are already living proof that students can “make half your plate fruits and vegetables” when their school cafeteria has a salad bar with a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables everyday.

Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools is a comprehensive public health effort to mobilize and engage stakeholders at the local, state and national level to significantly increase the number of salad bars in schools across the country until every child has the choice of healthy fruits and vegetables every day at school. Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools is an initiative of the Food Family Farming Foundation, National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance, United Fresh Produce Association Foundation, and Whole Foods Market. This initiative has pledged to donate 6,000 salad bars to schools nation-wide over the next three years. 

Currently, 773 schools nationwide have received salad bars from Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools. If your school would like to request a salad bar you can apply at www.saladbars2schools.org.