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Whole Foods grants $500,000 to provide 150 salad bars to schools

Whole Kids Foundation, a nonprofit focused on children’s nutrition and wellness, announced that 150 new salad bars will be provided to schools in the U.S. this year. The $500,000 investment will ensure more than 75,000 students will have access to fresh healthy produce at school.schoo

In partnership with Salad Bars to Schools, Whole Kids Foundation has provided nearly 5,500 school salad bars since 2011. Salad Bars to Schools is a public-private partnership founded by Whole Foods Market, Chef Ann Foundation, National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance and United Fresh Start Foundation. Collectively, more than $14.3 million has been invested across all 50 states providing over 2.7 million children with daily access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Salad bars at schools are a proven way to encourage kids to eat more fresh vegetables and are a successful strategy to promote healthy eating for students, according to research by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Eating nutritious food is linked to their academic success (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention); specifically, higher grades and standardized test scores, reduced absenteeism and improved cognitive performance. For these reasons, school salad bars are in high demand.

“Every salad bar gives kids access to fresh vegetables and fruit every day, which allows them to make healthy food choices,” said Nona Evans, executive director and president of Whole Kids Foundation. “We are so proud to be a part of the movement working to support a healthier generation of kids.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which funds the national school lunch program, more than 31 million kids eat school lunch every day and for many, what they eat at school is more than 80 percent of their daily calories. The Center for Disease Control & Prevention reports that kids with access to a salad bar consume three times more fruits and vegetables, indicating that when kids have healthy options, they make healthy choices.

Not only is having nutritious food accessible to students good for their health and education, it’s also financially smart. The cost for one freestanding, mobile salad bar grant is about $3,000. This includes everything a school needs to get started: the bar, chill pads, pans and tongs. Each salad bar can serve a school for 10 years, which makes it incredibly cost effective with the true cost being about $0.01 per child, per day.

In addition to the salad bar equipment, each school that is awarded a grant also receives training tools provided by thelunchbox.org, including food-safety training, knife skills training and fully tested, nutritionally analyzed and scalable recipes.

Whole Kids Foundation accepts salad bar grant applications year-round from school districts and are submitted by district food service staff. A parent advocate toolkit is available for parents interested in encouraging their school districts to apply for a salad bar grant.