Monday, May 2, 2011

Salad bars coming to 32 schools in the New Orleans area

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Published: Monday, May 02, 2011, 9:30 AM

New Orleans students at 32 schools around the city will be getting new healthy lunch options by the end of the year with donated salad bars from the United Fresh Produce Association.

joseph-craig-elementary_1024.jpgShanice Burton, 5, has lunch at Joseph A. Craig Elementary School building in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans in 2010. Craig is one of the New Orleans public schools that will be getting a salad bar.

The group, a trade association made up of produce companies, is raising money to provide salad bars for 6,000 schools across the U.S. over the next three years, a campaign aimed at improving childhood nutrition. Also in on the push, dubbed "Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools," are the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance, Whole Foods Markets and The Lunch Box, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable food production.

The produce association said it was able to raise enough cash to provide a salad bar for every school in the city that requested one. It took in a total of $80,000 for salad bars that cost from $2,500 to $3,000 each. The list includes traditional public schools and charters in New Orleans, as well a single suburban school, Emily C. Watkins Elementary School in LaPlace. The latest gift comes on top of a donation of 10 salad bars by the produce association in 2010 and six by Whole Foods this year.

schools-getting-salad-bars.jpgView full size

The salad bars dovetail with various other government initiatives intended to improve children's health. Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced in February that New Orleans has been selected as a "Let's Move!" city. The program was created by Michelle Obama and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to encourage a long-term, holistic approach to fighting childhood obesity. As part of the program, city officials plan to work with community partners to help parents make healthy family choices, create healthy schools, promote physical activity and provide access to healthy and affordable foods.

A 2007 study by the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality pegged the obesity rate among children age 10 though 17 at 36 percent in Louisiana, compared with a national average of 31 percent. Only five other states had a higher rate.

Andrew Vanacore can be reached at or 504.826.3304.

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