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United Fresh and PWPM donate salad bar to Esperanza Academy

Over 700 high school students at the Esperanza Academy Charter School in Philadelphia’s Hunting Park neighborhood now have improved access to fresh fruits and vegetables. To promote healthy eating and good nutrition in school lunches, the access comes via a salad bar donated by the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market and the United Fresh Produce Association's United Fresh Foundation.

"The PWPM was pleased to be able to donate the salad bar to help Esperanza continue to promote healthy eating among its student population," Tad Thompson, business development manager of the PWPM, said in a press release. "We are especially honored to contribute to the mission of a school like Esperanza Esperanza Ivin Martez, Myrna Eliz Rivera and Karen Fernandez enjoying Esperanza's new salad bar.and the community it serves. There are many needs in Philadelphia to increase fresh produce consumption. This is a nice step in the right direction."

"Poor nutrition is rampant in our economically disadvantaged communities and leads to disproportionately high rates of childhood obesity, diabetes and other chronic illnesses,” Reverend Luis Cortés Jr., founder and president of Esperanza, said in the press release. “We need to attack these challenges with every tool at our disposal, and a salad bar in our cafeteria helps us take another important step in the right direction toward a healthier community. We have access to a captive audience in our schools to promote healthy eating, and we appreciate the PWPM and the United Fresh Produce Association for their investment in our young people."

The Esperanza Academy Charter High School, founded in 2000, is dedicated to providing quality education that prepares critically thinking, socially capable, spiritually sensitive and culturally aware young adults who can use English, Spanish and technology as tools for success. The school is a comprehensive college preparatory school, enrolling 750 students in grades 9 through 12 with a 100 percent minority student body that is 95 percent Hispanic and 5 percent African American. The poverty rate is well above 80 percent every year, based on percentages of students eligible for free and reduced lunch. Of the students, 19 percent speak English as a Second Language. Esperanza Academy graduates over 90 percent of its students on time. Esperanza expects to expand to include approximately 500 students in grades 6-8 by September of 2013.

The United Fresh Foundation is a founding partner of Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools, a national initiative that has donated more than 1,600 salad bars nationwide, increasing children's access and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in school lunch every day. The program supports First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation.