Sunday, April 19, 2015

Pilot salad bar will determine whether other Jefferson Co. schools follow suit in bid to increase students' veggie and fruit intake

The Jefferson County Public School system is pilot-testing a salad bar at Atherton High School to entice students to eat more vegetables and fruits, a goal of the new federal nutrition standards, Allison Ross reports for The Courier-Journal.

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"We're always looking for new ideas to increase participation or attract students to come through the serving line," Terina Edington, assistant director for nutrition services, told Ross.

Many of Kentucky's children are falling far short of the daily recommended four and a half cups or more of fruits and vegetables, a shortcoming that one study says will contribute to early heart disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2013 State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables found that only 50 percent of Kentucky adolescents reported eating fruit and 43 percent reported eating vegetables with a median intake of one time per day for both.

Salad bars were once common in Jefferson County schools, but concerns about portion control and contamination concerns caused them to "slowly disappear," Edington told Ross. Many schools across the country continue to "remain leery" of adding salad bars because of such health concerns, Ross writes.

This trial will help the district determine whether it will put salad bars in other schools. Cafeteria modifications for the salad bar at Atherton cost $400, Ross reports.

A push for schools to add more salad bars has been led by First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative, which co-sponsors a "Salad Bars 2 Schools" program that has donated more than 4,000 salad bars to schools, Ross reports. "A 2014 evaluation of that program found that 57 percent of participating schools saw an increase in student participation in school lunch, and 78 percent reported buying more fruits and vegetables."

The school's Facebook page said that the salad bar would have diced ham, turkey breast, fajita chicken strips, cucumbers, baby spinach, radishes and four types of dressings, with the lettuce and meat portions pre-measured, while the other ingredients will be self-serve.

Atherton High parent Lynn Greene told Ross that she is "thrilled my child has a healthy option," saying she hopes other schools will also get salad bars.

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