Saturday, April 08, 2017 by Frances Bloomfield
Getting kids to eat their vegetables just became easier. In Fort Worth, Texas at least. On March 22 of this year, the Westpark Elementary School of Fort Worth welcomed the installation of a new salad bar. Representatives from the Forth Worth Independent School District were joined by Fort Worth mayor, Betsy Price, and City of Benbrook mayor, Dr. Jerry Dittrich. The salad bar ribbon-cutting ceremony began in the morning and was followed by the students using the new salad bar for lunch.
“This is a smart first step toward incorporating healthy, fresh foods into the lunches our children are eating at school,” said Dittrich. He then went on to laud the school for its decision to have a salad bar as part of its facilities. “The salad bar is a tangible example of this school’s commitment to student wellness. Thank you to all community partners that made this donation possible, and also to our local students who wanted these healthy choices.”
The salad bar is the first of five to be introduced to schools in the Fort Worth area within the year. The district’s salad bars are a contribution of a number of healthy eating-focused bodies. These include Snappy Salads, DMA Solutions, and the California Giant Foundation. Westpark Elementary was chosen to be the recipient of the first salad bar after students passed a petition. The students are members of the school’s Blue Zone Project committee, a group dedicated to identifying ways to help students choose healthier options during school days.
“Healthy kids learn better. And we know that if you reduce obesity, you reduce the chance of diabetes, and you reduce the chance of absenteeism. The kids here are going to be better students because they’re being healthy,” said Price.
In October of last year, Price organized a community bike ride in Texas with the help of California Giant‘s Tour de Fresh. The event was developed in conjunction with her FitWorth initiative to encourage healthful lifestyle choices during the Halloween season.
Cindy Jewell, Vice President of Marketing for California Giant Berry Farms and the California Giant Foundation, said in a release: “When we heard about Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price’s Halloween biking event and her FitWorth initiative, we decided to encourage our supporters to participate in the mayor’s event along with a local restaurant chain that wanted to make a difference in their community. We all worked together on this project to provide Fort Worth-area children with healthier choices at school, so the collaboration was perfect and today we saw the positive results when presenting the salad bar.”
An average school day for the Fort Worth Independent School District sees it serving over 60,000 meals from 133 school sites around the city. These meals include breakfast, lunch, and snacks. As per the United States Department of Agriculture, a variety of vegetables and fruits are required to be served every week. The inclusion of the salad bar will allow Westpark Elementary to hold up to current school lunch nutrition standards.
Research has shown that children are more likely to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables when presented with a variety of choices. Adding salad bars to schools makes vegetables and fruits more accessible to children.