BALTIMORE (Feb. 24, 2015) – Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools (LMSB2S) is thrilled to announce that the partnership has granted its 4,000th school salad bar serving more than 2 million kids a day. This represents an investment of over $10 million by the LMSB2S partners, foundations, and corporate and nonprofit donors.
A sub-initiative in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! program, Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools provides salad bar equipment and training to schools and districts across America that are enrolled in the National School Lunch Program. The organization was founded in 2010 by Whole Foods Market, the United Fresh Start Foundation, the Chef Ann Foundation, and the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance*. The Whole Kids Foundation, LMSB2S’ largest sustaining partner, helped make this milestone happen with a $750,000 donation last month.
“Today’s announcement is an exciting milestone,” Obama said. “As we celebrate the fifth anniversary of Let’s Move!, we are well on our way to a future when all students have access to a variety of vegetables and fruit from their school salad bars each day. This is what change looks like!”
Overall, findings demonstrate that availability of salad bars is an effective strategy to increase students’ fruit and vegetable intake and furthermore help schools comply with new and improved federal school lunch nutrition standards. From a 2014 survey of food service directors from schools receiving LMSB2S salad bars, most schools (57percent) saw an increase in student participation in the school lunch program as a result of implementing salad bars. More than half of the students in recipient schools are eligible for free and reduced price school meals through the National School Lunch Program, demonstrating that LMSB2S is providing low-income students with increased access to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
“This achievement was made possible through teamwork, with organizations from both the public and private sectors joining forces to make it as easy as possible for schools to apply for salad bars,” said Sam Kass, former executive director of Let’s Move!. “We’ve learned that kids who have access to salad bars at school are eating three times as many fruits and vegetables. For that alone, we need to embrace and grow this cause.”
Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools will be celebrating this 4,000th salad bar milestone by hosting an event at Calvin M. Rodwell Elementary School (part of Baltimore City Public Schools) on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, at 10a.m. Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) serve nearly 85,000 students, with 84 percent of students eligible for free or reduced meals, and over half the students eating a school lunch daily. The Salad Bar Program began back in 2012 in BCPS with just 10 pilot schools. Today, 70 salad bars are operating throughout the district, with other sites offering salad bars from retrofitted cold service lines, or serving a house-made side salad. BCPS partners with the District’s Great Kids Farm to offer students cultivated and processed seasonal produce that, when available, is included in schools’ salad service.
“When kids are given the opportunity to choose good food, they make good choices!” said Nona Evans, executive director of the Whole Kids Foundation. “At the heart of the matter, kids enjoy eating well.”
According to Lorelei DiSogra EdD, R.D., vice president of nutrition and health at the United Fresh Produce Association, “Showcasing successes like Baltimore is critical as Congress gets ready to reauthorize child nutrition programs later this year. With salad bars and a host of other programs designed to increase children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables, Baltimore City students are learning to make healthy choices for a lifetime.”
Apply for a Salad Bar Today
The application to request salad bars from Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools is available at saladbars2schools.org. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. In addition to the freestanding mobile salad bar, each school recipient receives access to thelunchbox.org, a free comprehensive online portal that helps lunchrooms transition from frozen and boxed foods to fresh, whole, scratch-cooked foods.
*The National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance (NFVA) is a national alliance of public agencies and produce industry partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Produce for Better Health Foundation and others (www.nfva.org/about.html).