When only seven percent of kids are eating enough vegetables for optimum nutrition, you know it’s time to find sustainable solutions to improve eating habits. It’s a serious situation, with the CDC reporting that 60 percent of children don’t eat enough fruit to meet daily recommendations and 93 percent of children aren’t eating enough vegetables.
More salad bars = more vegetable consumption
Getting kids to select and enjoy nourishing foods is a challenge for everyone, but it’s an especially complex issue for food service directors at educational institutions. Many of them are finding an answer in salad bars, a traditional restaurant and higher education offering that’s increasingly making its way into schools at all levels.
According to a Pew Charitable Trusts study, school nutrition directors have reported that 64 percent of students ate more fruits and vegetables when offered a salad bar compared to 33 percent who ate the same amount.
Hey kids, try this
Kids may be more willing to try a taste of a new food if they have the control over when and how they’ll be eating it, so salad bars make sense as a vehicle for introducing new flavors and ingredients. With the ability to make their own choices and personalize their plates, students seem to be more receptive to the idea of eating more fruits and vegetables.
Salad bars also offer many opportunities for educational and community reinforcement. Local produce can be featured on the bar, and local producers can be encouraged to make student visits. For schools with community gardens on campus, gardeners can be given the opportunity to highlight some of their harvest on the salad bar.
According to the Chef Ann Foundation, an organization that helps schools take action so that every child has daily access to fresh, healthy food, “salad bars are one of the best initial changes a school district can make to show their community they’re making positive changes in their food program.” The foundation’s most recent evaluation showed that 68 percent of schools implementing salad bars saw an increase in average daily participation.
T. Marzetti tip
Marzetti® Simply Dressed® clean label dressings are an increasingly popular salad bar option. They’re made without high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavors, artificial colors or gluten and are available in gallons, 32 oz. bottles and single-serve packets and cups.