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United shatters salad bar donation goal

SAN DIEGO – The United Fresh Produce Association shattered its goal of donating 350 salad bars to schools in California when it announced that 436 schools would receive salad bars as a result of a passionate fundraising effort by key members of the association.

United Fresh revealed the final number during a May 15 press conference prior to the opening day of the trade show. The standing-room-only crowd was evidence of the importance of the initiative, BPG 4475Karen Caplan of Frieda's and a co-chair of the Let's Move Salad Bars to California Schools initiative, reveals the number of salad bar donations made to California schools during a May 15 press conference in San Diego prior to the opening of the United Fresh 2013 expo. With Ms. Caplan on the stage were Lorelei DiSogra (left), vice president of nutrition for the United Fresh Produce Association, and co-chairs Margaret D'Arrigo Martin, Lisa McNeece and Dick Spezzano. (Photo courtesy of United Fresh)which seeks to provide more fresh fruits and vegetables to schoolchildren as a way to improve their health

Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition for United Fresh, said that the Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools initiative would benefit the 436 schools located in 71 districts throughout the state. She said that as many as 300,000 students were expected to benefit from the effort.

“This has been a labor of passion and love,” she said. “This is truly a landmark event.”

She added that the California co-chairs of the initiative – Dan’l Mackey Almy of DMA Solutions, Karen Caplan of Frieda’s, Dick Spezzano of Spezzano Consulting, Margaret D’Arrigo Martin of Taylor Farms and Lisa McNeece of Grimmway Farms – were instrumental is the success of the effort.

“This remarkable donation of salad bars to 436 California schools truly demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships to improve child nutrition,” Tom Stenzel, chief executive officer of United Fresh, said in a press release issued after the press conference. “Produce industry leaders, businesses, and foundations all came together to support increasing children’s fresh fruit and vegetable consumption. These salad bars will transform school cafeterias and help 300,000 students develop healthier eating habits that will last a lifetime.”

School foodservice directors from 37 of those districts attended the event and were recognized as “salad bar superstars” and leaders on the front line in increasing children’s consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.

“When our students aren’t healthy, they are less likely to be in class and learning,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who spearheads TEAM California for Healthy Kids, added in the press release. “With Team California for Healthy Kids, we are working to ensure our kids have access to nutritious food, clean water and physical exercise – so that the right choices are easy choices. That’s why I applaud the effort to make fresh fruits and vegetables available right in the lunchroom.”

To date, more than 2,500 salad bars have been donated to schools across the country.