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That's what she said

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Grist | Boulder’s cafeterias embrace the salad-bar challenge


Every day, U.S. schoolchildren throw tons of vegetables in the trash.

The USDA requires that schools participating in the National School Lunch Program offer a certain quantity of vegetables each week. But most schools serve processed foods that arrive frozen and get reheated. Vegetables typically land on students’ cafeteria trays overcooked and unpalatable. Who can blame them for turning up their noses?

School-food reformer Ann Cooper puts her vegetable money in salad bars, where the lettuce is always crisp and the vegetables only lightly blanched or roasted, if cooked at all. Before Cooper arrived in Boulder to take over food services, the schools were gradually beginning to introduce what they called “Harvest Bars.” One of Cooper’s first acts was to install a salad bar in all 48 of the district’s schools.

“When salad bars are set up correctly, they give kids choices, and it’s healthy, or certainly can be,” says Cooper. “That’s not to say there isn’t waste from salad bars. And if I had the money, I would do both: serve vegetables in the food line and at the salad bar. But when you let kids actively choose what they want, the more likely it is that they will actively eat the food.”

While in Boulder, Cooper met a parent activist — Mara Fleishman — who also happens to be Whole Foods Market’s national partnership director. What followed was a salad bar campaign — the Great American Salad Bar Project — through which Whole Foods recently raised $1.4 million from customers nationwide, enough to install salad bars in 564 schools. Around 570 schools have applied. And on Nov. 22, First Lady Michelle Obama announced that a new public-private partnership, Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, would provide funding for at least 6,000 more new salad bars for U.S. school cafeterias.

Read the entire article at Grist: Boulder’s cafeterias embrace the salad-bar challenge

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