The United Fresh Produce Association announced June 11 the donation of salad bars to 200 Midwest schools in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. An estimated 100,000 Midwest students in both urban and rural school districts will benefit by having increased access to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every day at school lunch. With the goal of increasing students’ fruit and vegetable consumption, the donation represents just the start of the United Fresh Foundation’s multi-year “Let’s Move Salad Bars to Midwest Schools” campaign.
“Our philosophy is to provide our students with fresh produce every day," Bertrand Weber, director, culinary and nutrition services for the Minneapolis Public Schools, said in a press release. "We believe salad bars are teaching our students about the importance of eating healthy, that fruits and vegetables are delicious and should be part of every meal. We currently have salad bars in 31 of our 62 Minneapolis public schools and our goal is to expand our salad bar program to more schools. ‘Let’s Move Salad Bars to Midwest Schools’ is helping us accomplish that goal."
Sherri Matuszyk, school foodservice director, Wethersfield Community Unified School District No. 230 in Kewanee, IL, noted that salad bars have become an important addition to their school meal program. “Our students are excited about the salad bars and to be able to make their own choices,” she said. “I received so many good comments from students, staff and parents, and the students are eating more fruits and vegetables. In fact, just a few weeks ago I had a student tell me, ‘Thanks for the salad bar!’ What an amazing feeling that is. This opportunity has added so much to our lunch program.”
“We are at a pivotal moment in school nutrition,” Tom Stenzel, United Fresh chief executive officer, added in the press release. “Our industry is committed to helping schools serve a wide variety of fresh fruits and I’m thrilled to see so many produce industry leaders and businesses step forward to support the salad bar campaign. This is truly a transformational program, making a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of kids.”
“Let’s Move Salad Bars to Midwest Schools” is a special campaign of the United Fresh Foundation, co-chaired by Lisa J. Strube, Strube Celery & Vegetable Co.; Rebecca Wilson, The Tom Lange Co. Inc.; Bob Kirch, Caito Foods Service Inc.; Hilary B. Martin, Frey Farms; Mark Girardin, North Bay Produce Inc.; Harold Van Eerden, Van Eerden Co; Phillip Brooks, H. Brooks & Co.; Jason Craig, C.H. Robinson; Ken Holthouse, Doug Walcher Farms; Joe Klare, Castellini Co. LLC; Larry A. Alsum, Alsum Farms & Produce Inc.; and Steve Jarzombek, Roundy's Supermarkets.
“I’ve got our whole produce team excited about the Midwest salad bar campaign and the opportunity to support salad bars for schools in the community we serve,” said Jarzombek. “We’ve engaged our produce partners and have secured salad bar contributions for 32 schools and counting. School programs that encourage kids to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables benefit our produce departments.”
Co-chairs across all six states have engaged their industry colleagues, vendor partners and allied businesses to support salad bars for Midwest schools. Additionally, the campaign has received contributions from companies outside the produce industry who are also concerned about the national childhood obesity epidemic, soaring healthcare costs associated with diet-related illnesses and the importance of encouraging healthy eating habits among our nation’s youth.
The salad bar donations are made possible by the following companies/individuals that are supporting one or more salad bars: Able-Mendoza Inc.; American Containers Inc.; Apex Benefits; Blue Book Services Inc.; Bob Strube Jr. and Sue Strube in honor of Mickey Lefton; Brandt Consolidated Inc.; Bunzl Inc.; C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc.; Caito Foods Service Inc.; Caruso Inc.; Chiquita Brands International Inc.; CliftonLarsonAllen LLP; Dietz & Kolodenko Co.; DMA Solutions Inc.; DNO Inc.; Dole Food Co.; Doug Walcher Farms; Four Seasons Family of Cos.; Frederick's Inc.; The Fresh Group Ltd.; Grimmway Enterprises Inc.; Holthouse Farms; JAB Produce/Jack Keller Co.; James Babcock Inc., Electrical Contractors; Joshen Paper & Packaging; Landsberg – Indianapolis; Lisa Strube and Sue Hunter; Mastronardi Produce Ltd.; MB Financial Bank; Meijer; MS Inspection & Logistics; Muir Copper Canyon Farms; North Bay Produce Inc.; R.S. Hanline Co. Inc.; ReFresh Produce; Robert Strube III; Roundy’s Supermarkets Inc.; Seald Sweet; Steve Grinstead; Strube Celery & Vegetable Co.; The Tom Lange Co. Inc; Urschel Laboratories; Van Eerden Co.; Vermilion Valley Produce/Central Illinois Produce; Whole Kids Foundation.