Why Every School Needs a Salad Bar

Salad bars have been a staple in school cafeterias for decades and after a brief hiatus during the pandemic, we’re delighted to say salad bars are back! Many schools are afforded the opportunity to receive a grant in order to implement salad bars stocked with fruits and veggies for their meal programs.

Bob Gorman, Executive Director of School Nutrition at Cleveland Metropolitan School District, has been implementing salad bars since 2007 when he was with Denver Public Schools in Colorado where they added the new equipment to nearly all of their 100 schools. Now, leading the nutrition at Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Gorman is working to bring Cambro Versa Food Bars® to 10 of their schools. Gorman outlines why he believe salad bars in schools are a necessity.

1. Students Will Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Serving fresh fruits and vegetables is a necessity, however, many students can be apprehensive. Healthy foods have a stigma that they’re not good, but in reality, there are plenty of fruits and vegetables that are absolutely delicious. Some students may be put off simply because they’ve never seen a food before and they’re nervous to try it.

Gorman believes salad bars are the best way to encourage students to eat fresh foods because they create an appetizing presentation.

“When the fruits and veggies are on [the Cambro salad bar], they look amazing. I’ve only bought black [food pans]; the black looks 100 times better. I think the black contrast with the fruit and vegetables just makes the fruit and veggies pop. I’ve always been a black pan and tong guy,” said Gorman.

2. Students Are More Likely to Try New Foods

Trying new foods can be scary, even for some adults! Gorman believes the key to helping students try something new is to allow them to choose how much they want of it.

“[The salad bar] allows them to pick what they want as much as they want…within reason. If we’re offering an heirloom sun gold tomato, it’s new to them; they don’t have to take that whole half cup serving. They can just choose one or two just to try it,” said Gorman.

Additionally, Gorman says he sees less plate waste because students are less likely to overserve themselves when trying new foods. Rather than being served a uniform scoop, they can take just a couple bites worth.

3. Feature Local Foods

Farm to school is extremely popular across the US. Whether you already have a program in place or are looking to implement one, salad bars are a great way to display fresh, local produce.

“I’m also a big local foods guy., Let it be local watermelon or the little mini sweet peppers or whole fresh green beans, any of that stuff is really great to let kids help themselves off of the Cambro bars,” said Gorman.

Farm to School began as a way to help students make healthier choices, but it has evolved into a program that also benefits schools and communities. Click here to read 3 Ways Farm to School Makes an Impact on Schools, Students and Community.

4. Increase Participation

If you’re struggling with students participating in school meals, a salad bar may be a way to refresh your program and provide a new focal point full of fresh foods.

“The kids are just ecstatic to have fresh watermelon and fresh strawberries,” said Gorman. “At [my previous schools], yes, fruit and veggie bars helped increase participation.” 

If you’re still serving canned fruit or the typical boring apples, implementing salad bars with local and seasonal produce could help students become more interested in making healthy choices.

In addition to stocking his salad bars, Gorman takes it several steps further to reach the students. He recently hired a farm to school manager to manage how they receive locally sourced foods while also facilitating activities about local agriculture and healthy eating. Gorman works with 12 farm to school sites that provide hands on nutrition education, they provide taste tests and they feature a harvest of the month. Contact your local Cambro sales rep today to get started on implementing salad bars in your schools.


Categories: Schools

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