Well, with that in mind, I want to share with you an interesting, innovative and simple initiative that has been launched within the fresh produce industry. It’s called "A Salad Bar in Every School."
The general idea is to get companies and individuals to give money to schools to purchase a salad bar unit, which would be used in the school’s cafeteria. Studies have shown that kids will make healthier choices when an attractive display of FRESH produce is available at lunchtime.
Although this is a produce industry initiative, I was thinking... What if parent-teacher associations across the country knew that they could purchase a single salad bar unit for their school cafeteria for only a few thousand dollars? This would send a great message: parent-teacher groups are concerned enough about the health and eating habits of students to put their money where their mouth is.
Give students healthy choices at lunchtime – and see what happens.
I know first-hand that there are real life benefits to offering healthy foods to kids. About eight years ago, I was privileged to represent the produce industry in Washington, D.C., when I testified in front of the Senate Agricultural Committee. I presented a 100-school case study that showed when fresh fruits and veggies were given out as free snacks to kids, their behavior changed (positively):
- Kids went home and told their parents to buy more fresh produce as snacks.
- Kids were willing to try new fresh produce that they had never eaten before, and that translated to their at-home consumption, too.
- Teachers said that students had fewer behavior problems in classrooms.
You can see here and here the two salad bar options. And if you are interested in making a difference in YOUR community, I encourage you to contact Andrew Marshall, the policy and grassroots coordinator at the United Fresh Produce Association (email here) and see how easy it is to make this happen in your local school.
As a parent, it’s nice to know that there’s something we can do to help our kids eat healthier -- and do our part to fight the obesity epidemic in our country.
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