and some cancers.4 In the context of obesity, increased fruit
and vegetable intake may assist in healthy weight manage-
ment when energy-dense foods are replaced by fruits and
vegetables.5 Fruits and vegetables also provide a variety
of micronutrients and fiber, and therefore, are targeted in
the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, as two foods
to increase to maintain overall health and reduce the risk
of chronic disease and obesity.6 Additionally, diet quality
may affect academic performance; in one study, students
consuming the highest level of fruits and vegetables were
shown to be significantly less likely to have poor academic
ncreasing fruit and vegetable intake is important for
good health and may decrease risk for many chronic
diseases, including heart disease,1 stroke,2 diabetes,3
performance.7 However, few school-age children con-
sume the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables.
Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination
Survey 2003–2004 found that only 6.2% of adolescents
(12–18 years old) met recommendations for fruit intake
and 5.8% for vegetable intake.8 Helping children develop
good eating habits early in life is critical for maximizing
academic performance during the school years and for
maintaining wellness throughout their lives.
Schools can play an important role in promoting con-
sumption by increasing access to fruits and vegetables
and giving students opportunities to learn about and prac-
tice healthful eating behaviors. Several federal initiatives
have been implemented to increase access to fruits and
vegetables in schools, including changes to the USDA
school meal pattern requirements, the HealthierUS School
August 2012 | Volume 8, Number 4
© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Few school-age youth consume the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, and increasing fruit and vegetable intake
in children and adolescents is an important public health goal to maintain long-term good health and to decrease risk of chronic
disease and obesity. School salad bars are an important tool to promote fruit and vegetable consumption among schoolchildren.
Studies show that introduction of school salad bars increases the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables consumed by children
in schools. However, many schools cannot afford the capital investment in the salad bar equipment. In 2010, the National Fruit &
Vegetable Alliance (NFVA), United Fresh Produce Association Foundation, the Food Family Farming Foundation, and Whole Foods
Market launched Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools (LMSB2S) in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative.
The goal of LMSB2S is to place 6000 salad bars in schools over 3 years. As of June, 2012, over 1400 new salad bar units have been
delivered to schools across the United States, increasing access to fruits and vegetables for over 700,000 students. Any K through
12 school district participating in the National School Lunch Program is eligible to submit an application at www.saladbars2s-
chools.org/. Requests for salad bar units ($2625 each unit) are fulfilled through grassroots fund raising in the school community and
through funds raised by the LMSB2S partners from corporate and foundation sources. LMSB2S is a model for coalition-building
across many government, nonprofit, and industry partners to address a major public health challenge.
Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools:
A Public–Private Partnership To Increase
Student Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
Diane M. Harris, Ph.D., M.P.H., CHES,1 Jennifer Seymour, Ph.D.,1 Laurence Grummer-Strawn,Ph.D.,1
Ann Cooper,2 Beth Collins,2 Lorelei DiSogra, Ed.D., R.D.,3 Andrew Marshall,3 and Nona Evans4
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, Atlanta, GA.
2Food Family Farming Foundation, Boulder, CO.
3United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, DC.
4 Whole Foods Market, Inc., Austin, TX.
The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
CHILDHOOD OBESITY August 2012
Challenge, and the National Farm to School Program.
School salad bars are an important tool that can support
all of these approaches to promote fruit and vegetable
consumption in schools. In fact, the White House Task
Force on Childhood Obesity endorsed schools using salad
bars and upgrading cafeteria equipment to support provid-
ing healthier foods to children.9 However, not all schools
can afford the capital investment in the equipment. There-
fore, Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools (LMSB2S) was
formed as a unique public-private partnership to promote
and sponsor school salad bars with the goal of increasing
their prevalence around the country.
Impact of School Salad Bars
on Student Fruit and Vegetable Intake
Studies show that introduction of school salad bars
increases the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables
consumed by children in schools. One of the most com-
prehensive studies on the impact of school salad bars
is a 24-hour food recall study conducted in elementary
school children (ages 7–11) from low-income households
participating in a salad bar program in the Los Angeles
Unified School District.10 In this study, researchers found
that introduction of a school salad bar in three schools
resulted in an increase in frequency of fruits and veg-
etables consumed during the day (change almost all due
to increase at lunch) among the students. When the diets
were analyzed, the intake of energy, cholesterol, saturated
fat, and total fat was found to be significantly lower in
children after the introduction of salad bars compared to
before. Another study conducted in San Diego, CA, found
that elementary students who used the self-service salad
bars in two schools ate a greater amount of fruits and veg-
etables when the variety of fruit and vegetable items was
increased on the salad bar.11 More recently the Center of
Excellence for Training and Research Translation at the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill released an
evaluation of the Riverside Unified School District Farm-
er’s Market Salad Bar, which is used in 29 elementary
schools in the district.12 The Riverside program focuses
on local food and includes hands-on educational activities
(Harvest of the Month, taste tests, etc.). This evaluation
conducted in four schools found that students who chose
the salad bar ate more servings of fruits and vegetables
than students who chose the hot bar; food costs were not
increased in schools implementing salad bars.
The recently updated USDA school meal patterns
now require schools to increase the amount and variety
of fruits and vegetables offered as part of the National
School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs (NSLP
and SBP).13 In the new guidelines, fruits and vegetables
are now separate meal components; vegetables are to be
served daily at lunch, including specific vegetable sub-
groups (dark green, red and orange, dry beans, and peas)
weekly, and fruit is to be offered daily at breakfast and
lunch. In addition, schools can choose to participate in the
HealthierUS School Challenge, an incentive program to
recognize schools making changes in the school nutrition
and physical activity environments.14 For schools to fully
meet specifications for the Gold or Gold with Distinc-
tion Awards, they must offer two servings weekly from
any of the three vegetable subgroups in addition to those
required under the updated school meal patterns; at least
three fruits/week must be served fresh. Discussions with
school food services directors indicate that daily use of
school salad bars make meeting these criteria for the por-
tion size and variety of fruits and vegetables easier.
School salad bars are also an approach commonly used
in Farm to School programs, which link local and regional
farmers to schools through efforts to source fresh, locally
grown food for school meals. Farm to School programs
often include experiential learning activities such as school
gardens, student visits to farms and farmer visits to schools,
and on-site nutrition and culinary education. School salad
bars are one way to showcase local products and can be
integrated into these experiential learning activities.
Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools
However, in spite of the many benefits, many school dis-
tricts cannot afford even the modest per-school investment in
equipment needed to implement school salad bars. Therefore,
in 2010 the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance, United Fresh
Produce Association Foundation, the Food Family Farm-
ing Foundation (F3), and Whole Foods Market launched
LMSB2S in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s
Move! initiative. LMSB2S functions to raise awareness of
the use of school salad bars as an important part of a compre-
hensive public health effort to improve child nutrition, and
provides resources and support to those implementing school
salad bars. The goal of LMSB2S is to place 6000 salad bars in
schools over 3 years. As of June, 2012, over 1400 new salad
bar units have been delivered to schools across the United
States, ultimately benefitting over 700,000 students.
Any K through 12 school district participating in the
NSLP is eligible to submit an application at the LMSB2S
website (Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, available
at www.saladbars2schools.org/). Schools can apply for
a single salad bar package, or a district can submit one
application for multiple packages. The application gath-
ers information on the demographics of the district and
assesses current practices around provision of fruits and
vegetables. Schools that are current HealthierUS School
Challenge awardees are given top priority for available
funding. Otherwise, schools are prioritized based on the
percent of students eligible for free/reduced-cost lunch
and commitment to support a salad bar every day in
school lunch, as assessed in the application process. An
individual salad bar package, which includes the unit,
tongs, and other accessories, costs $2625; this cost is
lower than could be found through commercial suppliers
due to volume discounts obtained by LMSB2S.
School districts are encouraged to identify funding
sources through grassroots fund raising in the school
community (such as through Parent-Teacher Associations/
Organizations), foundation grants, and programs such
as Fuel Up to Play 60. Schools that provide their own
funding can still purchase the salad bar units through
LMSB2S at the reduced price. LMSB2S also assists in
identifying private sector donors for applicant school
districts. Corporate donations from Whole Foods Market
continue to be a major source of funding for the initiative.
In addition, funds are raised though the new Whole Kids
Foundation, the corporation’s charitable arm devoted to
improving children's nutrition and wellness. The majority
of other corporate donors, funding anywhere from 1 to 49
salad bars each, are companies in the produce and gro-
cery industry, many of which are members of the United
Fresh Produce Association. Foundations have also pro-
vided support, and recently Home Box Office (HBO), in
promoting the release of the Weight of the Nation series,
donated 100 salad bars to schools throughout the country.
In addition, a few communities, including San Antonio,
TX, have used funds from Communities Putting Preven-
tion to Work (CPPW) to provide salad bars to schools.
As of February, 2012, 964 districts from 48 states and
the District of Columbia have submitted applications to
request 2303 salad bars (unpublished data). Most requests
are from districts that had no salad bar at the time they
tricts have been summarized based on information pro-
vided in the application. In these districts, dark green and
orange vegetables are served, on average, only 2.8 times
Awardee districts will be surveyed again following 1 year
of implementation to assess how introduction of school
salad bars influences these practices.
The LMSB2S website provides a variety of resources to
school districts for successful implementation of school
salad bars, including information from the USDA as well
as a unique operations manual and a curriculum guide
developed by F3 and their Lunch Box Project. Other
technical support is provided in conjunction with the
National Food Service Management Institute, including
a webinar on salad bar operations available on their web-
site (National Food Service Management Institute. Salad
Bars in School Nutrition Programs—Webinar, available at
resources assist school districts in addressing common
concerns about salad bar operations, including providing
standard operating procedures for staff and educational
activities for students to ensure food safety with self-
service, strategies for placing the salad bar relative to
point-of-sale and monitoring portion size to determine a
complete reimbursable meal, and how to manage costs for
additional purchases of fruits and vegetables. Salad bar
success stories from the media and individual schools are
posted on the LMSB2S Facebook site. In addition, recipi-
ent school districts and their salad bar programs are pro-
filed on the Let’s Move! Blog (Let’s Move Blog, available
Partnerships with other nonprofit organizations have
been instrumental in promoting LMSB2S. The Associa-
tion of State & Territorial Public Health Nutrition Direc-
tors (ASTPHND) and its National Council of Fruit &
Vegetable Nutrition Coordinators, a National Fruit & Veg-
etable Alliance (NFVA) member, represents a network of
state-level public health partners. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention provides funding to ASTPHND to
provide yearly training to fruit and vegetable coordinators
and for a mini-grant program to promote salad bars within
awardee states. Other school food organizations, includ-
ing the National Farm to School Network, the School
Nutrition Association, the National Food Service Man-
agement Institute, School Food FOCUS, and the Culinary
Institute of America provide opportunities to inform, and
learn from, school child nutrition professionals through
webinars, workshops at conferences, and newsletters.
LMSB2S is a model for coalition building across many
government, nonprofit, and industry partners to address
a major public health challenge. To date, LMSB2S
has given more than 700,000 children and adolescents
increased access to a variety of fruits and vegetables in
school cafeterias. In the words of Rodney Taylor, Nutri-
tion Services Director in the Riverside (CA) Unified
School District, “When food is fresh and user-friendly,
when the salad bar smiles with colors and varieties, kids
don’t have to be coerced into eating.”15
The LMSB2S Coalition thanks the many organizations
that have contributed to providing salad bars to schools.
In addition, we acknowledge Barbara Ann McMonigal
and Sara “Sunny” Young for providing administrative
support to LMSB2S.
Author Disclosure Statement
No competing financial interests exist.
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Address correspondence to:
Diane M. Harris, Ph.D., M.P.H., CHES
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity
4770 Buford Highway
Atlanta, GA 30341