United helps launch salad bars initiative
by | November 22, 2010
WASHINGTON -- The United Fresh Produce Association Foundation joined
first lady Michelle Obama Nov. 22 at the Riverside Elementary School in Miami
as a new coalition of public and private sector partners launched the Let's
Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative.
The new initiative builds on the pioneering work done by United Fresh to
spearhead public health attention on the power of school salad bars as an
effective strategy for increasing children's consumption of fruits and
In 2009, United Fresh brought university researchers and school officials
together for a series of congressional and administration briefings on the
effectiveness of fruit and vegetable salad bars in schools. Subsequently, the
United Fresh Foundation's Center for Nutrition & Health launched its own
Salad Bar in Every School campaign earlier this year. During 2010, the United
foundation has donated more than 60 salad bars to schools in 12 states and
the District of Columbia to create models of excellence and to demonstrate
how fruit and vegetable salad bars can be important tools in increasing fruit
and vegetable consumption.
"We are thrilled to now take this campaign to a new level, joining with the
Let's Move initiative in a broad coalition committed to increasing children's
access to a wide array of fruits and vegetables in schools," United Fresh
Chairman of the Board Steffanie Smith, chief executive officer of River Point
Farms, said in a Nov. 22 press release. "Research has shown that kids given a
variety of choices of fruits and vegetables in a salad bar respond by trying
new items, incorporating greater variety in their diets, and increasing their
daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. And, increased daily access to a
variety of fruits and vegetables in schools can provide children an experience
that carries over beyond school, reaching both families at home and leading
to a lifetime of healthy snack and meal choices."
The new Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools coalition includes three founding
partners: the United Fresh Foundation, Food Family Farming Foundation, and
the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance, which in turn represents a wide array
of public and private sector partners.
"The addition of these partners," including the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and numerous public health
organizations, "provides a powerful team to make salad bars a cornerstone
strategy in increasing fruit and vegetable consumption in schools," United
Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel said in the release. "Even now, the USDA
team is preparing guidance for schools in effectively incorporating salad bars
in meal planning, providing food-safety training, and bringing together
school foodservice leaders to share best practices and innovations. The CDC is
providing strong public health evaluation, working with state health and
nutrition directors to measure the impact of salad bars in schools in
increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and combating childhood obesity.
Public health groups focused on prevention of cancer, heart disease and
diabetes are alerting their constituents to the simple but effective strategy of
using school salad bars to meet the critical need to increase fruit and
vegetable consumption. And, consumer groups, foundations and industry
partners are working together to build private-sector funding and grassroots
support for school salad bars. It's an incredible team."
One of the key strategies in the new Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative
is to provide schools that want a salad bar the opportunity to create their own
webpage at www.saladbars2schools.org to raise donations from their local
communities as well as to receive donations from the general funds of the
"I anticipate that this will become one of the most effective features of the
campaign," Ms. Smith said. "As an onion grower in a rural community in
Oregon, we want to work with our local schools to show them the value of
salad bars and get them registered on the site. It won't take long for local
businesses, parent-teacher organizations and community organizations to
raise the $2,500 or so that it takes to install a modern, food safety compliant
salad bar in schools across the country."
In addition to local community support, the coalition is now moving into high
gear in national fundraising from corporations, foundations and others to
support this important health initiative. "I can't think of a better investment
than the future health of our kids," Mr. Stenzel said. "We know the obesity
crisis in American children today is not only taking years off our children's
lives, but also adding billions of dollars to the nation's healthcare costs.
Employers, insurance companies and really all of us have a very strong
motivation to work together now to increase consumption of fruits and
vegetables today to prevent future health problems and costs."
He concluded, "We invite anyone interested in this shared mission to contact
the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools partners, and join the team."
The members of the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance are: American Cancer
Society, American Diabetes Association, American Dietetic Association,
American Frozen Food Institute, American Heart Association, California
Department of Public Health, Canned Food Alliance, Centers for Disease
Control & Prevention, National Council of Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition
Coordinators, National Alliance for Nutrition & Physical Activity, National
Cancer Institute, Produce for Better Health Foundation, Produce Marketing
Association, United Fresh Produce Association and U.S. Department of
Agriculture's Food, Nutrition & Consumer Services; Research, Education &
Economics; Marketing and Regulatory Programs.