Monday, November 22, 2010

New Website For Michelle Obama's Let's Move Salad Bars To Schools Initiative

Schools participating in the National School Lunch program can apply online for one of 6,000 portable, child-sized salad bars to be distributed across the US
During a visit to Riverside Elementary School in Miami on Monday afternoon, First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled the new Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, a major new project for her childhood obesity campaign. A full post about the event is here.

Over the next three years, a coalition of public-private partners will raise funds for and donate 6,000 special child-sized, portable salad bars to schools participating in the federal National School Lunch program. A new website launched today for the initiative: www.Saladbars2schools.org. (Above: A screenshot of the new website)

"If you take vegetables and you organize them in a pretty, delicious way, kids like you may actually eat them more -- because it looks kind of cool, doesn’t it?" Mrs. Obama told the very excited kids at Riverside, as she unveiled their new salad bar.

Founding members of the public-private partnership include the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance; United Fresh Produce Association Foundation; and Food, Family, Farming Foundation. The NFVA is co-chaired by Produce for Better Health Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. United Fresh Produce Association, one of the largest fruit and vegetable trade groups, had been running its own school salad bar campaign before joining the White House coalition.

"One of the things we know is that this kind of stuff is really expensive," Mrs. Obama said about the new salad bar campaign. "And not every school has the money that it takes to bring the salad bar in, even if they want to make it happen. So that's why this team of folks is so important, because they pulled together all these resources to make this happen."

>Read the full transcript of the First Lady's remarks here.


New website has online application...and healthy eating information
The first salad bars will be awarded to schools in March of 2011. The new website is designed to be an online portal for schools to both apply for salad bars, and raise community funds for their own salad bar campaigns. The over-all goal is to raise $15 million, which is what 6,000 salad bars cost. (Above: The Let's Move! salad bar)

Any K-12 school district or individual school participating in the National School Lunch Program is eligible to apply for a salad bar grant, but schools/districts with Bronze status or above in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSC), a Let's Move! initiative run by USDA, will have priority in receiving a fully funded salad bar as money is raised. The federal school lunch program feeds about 31 million children. The website also will provide healthy eating information, which is also available at www.letsmove.gov, the main Let's Move! campaign website.

Details of the salad bar kit...
The bars are not only child-sized to encourage easy access, but are also on wheels, and portable, so schools that don't have cafeterias or much space will be accommodated. Each salad bar is 72-inches long, with a 5-well insulated salad bar with two tray slides; divider bars; four 4-inch deep full pans with covers; eight 4-inch deep half pans with covers; and eight 4-inch deep quarter pans with covers. The kit also includes five buffet chilling pads; 24 serving tongs; 24 serving spoons; four squeeze bottles for dressing; one cutting board; one chef's knife; one paring knife; one peeler and one digital pocket thermometer.

Mrs. Obama has a goal of doubling the number of schools that participate in the HUSC by June of 2011, and the salad bars both help improve the nutrition scenarios in schools, and act as a further incentive. As of November 10th, 903 schools had received HUSC status, according to USDA, with the goal being 1,250.

Mrs. Obama was accompanied in Miami by Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Foods Initiatives Sam Kass as she debuted the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools project. Local chefs who participate in the Chefs Move To Schools initiative gave a cooking demonstration during the event. Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools is in response to the White House Task Force Report on Childhood Obesity, which encouraged salad bars in schools as a way of boosting kids' daily consumption of fresh produce; read "Healthy Food In Schools," Section III of the Report, here [PDF]).

*Salad bar photo by Kirsten Boger Photography for Let's Move!