Can Salad Bar Project Save School Lunch Programs?

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Whole Foods Market has teamed with “Renegade Lunch Lady” Chef Ann Cooper for the Salad Bar Project, designed to bring fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy proteins to school cafeterias.

“We see partnering with our shoppers to raise funds for salad bars in local schools as an immediate way for us to come together and make an impact on our children’s health in the communities we serve,” says Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb. “Our goal is to provide a salad bar in a local school in each of the communities we serve with our 300 stores.”

Now through Sept. 29, you can donate to the project at a Whole Foods checkout line or make an online donation. Each salad bar will cost approximately $2,500.

Any public elementary, middle or high school within 50 miles of a Whole Foods Market is eligible to apply through a grant process, which will be administered by Chef Cooper’s Food, Family, Farming Foundation. Grant applications will be accepted between Sept. 1 and Nov. 1.

“I know we can make thousands of salad bars a reality for schools everywhere,” Cooper says. “Since adding a healthy salad bar to school lunch options is the No. 1 thing parents and advocates can do to help improve school food, this is a win-win for schools and their students.”

“Making small changes—like replacing French fries with fresh fruits, steamed or raw vegetables and whole grains—can make a big difference,” Robb adds. “A fresh, healthy salad bar with an array of colorful choices empowers children to make smart food choices.”

More than 31 million children eat a federally funded school lunch each day through the National School Lunch Program. On average, each lunch is budgeted at 90 cents, which means schools rely on mostly frozen, highly processed, packaged foods.

And with no national standardized limits on sugar, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, it’s common to find hamburgers, chicken nuggets, French fries, chocolate milk and corn dogs on typical school lunch menus. And we wonder why America’s kids are struggling with their weight...

Photo: Ted Major

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