Foodservice Equipment Reports

School Salad Bar Program Ramps Up

A new public-private partnership supported by First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to fight childhood obesity might be a boon to the makers of salad bars.

“Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools” aims to install at least 6,000 salad bars in U.S. school cafeterias through a combination of grants and national and local fund-raising. The initiative was announced Nov. 22 at Riverside Elementary School in Miami, which received the program's first salad bar. The grant application process and fund distribution will be overseen by Ann Cooper, director of nutrition services in Boulder, Colo., schools. Cooper teamed up with Whole Foods to raise $1.4 million from store customers to establish the grant program. The recommended $2,500 equipment package includes a portable 72”, 5-well insulated salad bar with two tray slides; divider bars; four covered full-pans; eight covered half-pans; and eight covered quarter-pans; five buffet chilling pads; 24 serving tongs; 24 serving spoons; four squeeze bottles; a cutting board; a chef's knife; a paring knife; a peeler; and a digital pocket thermometer.

There are some obstacles ahead. Many school districts are reluctant to install salad bars for food-safety reasons. There are also cumbersome nutrition-tracking rules under the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s federally subsidized school lunch program, which feeds some 31 million U.S. schoolchildren every day. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control is trying to determine how local health inspectors might pass judgment on salad bars scattered across the country and what federal health requirements might apply.

Concerns center on elementary schoolchildren spreading disease at salad bars because they are too short for the standard sneeze guard on most salad bars, or because they might use their hands instead of the serving utensils provided. According to Cooper, school districts in Philadelphia, Austin, Tex., and Montgomery County, Md., have already indicated they will not support salad bars.

Online applications and tools for creating an individualized school fund-raising webpage are at  Once signed up, schools can encourage donations for their salad bar, as well as receive donations from the initiative’s general funds.

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