WASHINGTON -- The fresh produce industry will be giving back to the local community in an unprecedented way when the United Fresh Produce Association hosts it 107th annual convention May 2-4 in New Orleans. Through the generosity of member companies and friends, the United Fresh Foundation will donate salad bars to 33 New Orleans schools, creating a lasting impact on thousands of school children in its convention host city.
"These salad bars reflect our members' commitment to help increase access to fresh fruit and vegetables for thousands of New Orleans school kids. This is a great way for our industry to show our support to the local community and say 'thank you' for hosting our 2011 convention," Tom Stenzel, United’s president and chief executive officer, said in an April 13 press release. "I'm pleased to say that we've topped our goal to raise funds for 25 salad bars and will be able to provide a salad bar to every New Orleans school that requested one."
The foundation will commemorate the donation with a May 3 Let's Move Salad Bars to New Orleans Schools press event bringing together local dignitaries and officials to recognize the 33 recipient schools and each donor company. The salad bar donations are made possible through the generous sponsorship of the following companies: The Andrew Smith Co., Apio Inc., Bonipak Produce, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, CAMBRO, Capitol City Produce, Chiquita Brands, Ciruli Brothers, Del Monte Fresh Produce, Dennis and Susi Gertmenian, DMA Solutions, Dole Food Co., DuPont Crop Protection, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Horton Fruit Co., Mann Packing Co., Marie's, McEntire Produce, Muir Copper Canyon Farms, the National Watermelon Association, Pero Family Farms, Stemilt Growers, Taylor Farms, the Produce Exchange, the Tom Lange Co. and True Organic Products.
The May donation of salad bars is in addition to 10 salad bars that the United Fresh Foundation donated in the fall of 2010 from funds raised at its annual Washington Public Policy Conference. United also recognizes Whole Foods Markets, which has donated salad bars to six New Orleans schools this year as part of its nationwide campaign in support of Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools.
United Fresh is a founding partner of the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, which has a goal of donating salad bars to 6,000 schools nationwide within the next three years. Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools supports first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation.
"We hope that schools throughout the region and nationwide will now look at New Orleans as a model to see how salad bars can transform the school food experience. Schools can work directly with the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, raising funds for salad bars within their own communities through government support, local businesses, PTAs and more. It's easy for schools to post an application on www.SaladBars2Schools.org, and raise the necessary awareness and funds to make a difference for their kids," Mr. Stenzel said in the release.
United Fresh has pioneered the nationwide adoption of school fruit and vegetable salad bars as a proven strategy for significantly increasing children's produce consumption. To date, the United Fresh Foundation has donated salad bars to 85 schools in 12 states and the District of Columbia.