Nov 8, 2018National Potato Council’s support of Salad Bars to Schools brings healthier lunches to Virginia school system
On Nov. 8, the National Potato Council and United Fresh Start Foundation joined students, teachers and school administrators at Lemon Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia, for a “Celebration of Potatoes” lunchtime event. Kindergarten students learned how and where potatoes are grown, about different varieties, as well as potato nutrition benefits. All students also enjoyed a Greek-inspired potato salad from the school’s new salad bar.
“Potatoes are highly nutritious cost-effective vegetables that kids love to eat. Salad bars empower schools to offer healthy potato options that meet all K-12 school foodservice guidelines,” said Kam Quarles, Vice President, Public Policy, National Potato Council. “We are proud to help Fairfax schools achieve their nutrition goals by introducing kids to new ways of enjoying potatoes.”
Earlier this year, the National Potato Council partnered with the United Fresh Start Foundation to provide three salad bars to the Fairfax County Public Schools, as part of the national Salad Bars to Schools initiative. The donations also are part of a larger, multi-year potato industry campaign, which, over the past three years, has provided salad bars to more than 300 schools across the country. Recipient schools receive salad bars along with potato recipes, serving suggestions and other materials to assist K-12 school foodservice operators with incorporating potatoes on their menu.
“The generosity of potato growers, and the forethought of the potato industry to educate children about the different ways they can enjoy potatoes has yielded a successful partnership for all parties involved,” said Andrew Marshall, United Fresh’s Director of Foodservice & Foundation Partnerships, representing the United Fresh Start Foundation.
Fairfax County Public Schools is the 10th largest school district in the country. Under the leadership of Rodney Taylor, the district’s nationally recognized Food and Nutrition Services Director, the Fairfax school district serves breakfast, lunch, supper and snacks, in nearly 200 schools throughout the county. Taylor’s goal since he started in the district in 2015, has been to have a salad bar in every elementary school. The district’s initial request for more than 140 salad bars has since been significantly whittled-down, thanks in-part to United Fresh, produce industry supporters and “Salad Bars to Schools” partners.
USDA nutrition standards for school lunch require offering students a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables each week. Salad bars provide an easy way for schools to meet this requirement. Children significantly increase their fruit and vegetable consumption when given a variety of choices in a school salad bar, and when offered multiple fruit and vegetable choices they respond by incorporating greater variety and increasing their overall consumption.
The United Fresh Start Foundation is a founding partner of the national Salad Bars to Schools initiative, working with the produce industry, foundations and allied businesses to support salad bars for schools, as a strategy for increasing children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables every day. To date, the “Salad Bars to Schools” program has helped more than 5,300 schools, benefitting 3 million children in all 50 states.
For more information about the United Fresh Start Foundation or to specifically support the Salad Bars to Schools initiative, visit www.unitedfreshstart.org or contact Marshall at [email protected] or 202-303-3407.