Participation in school meal programs increase with addition of salad bar, study says

Students also eat more produce when a salad bar option is available.

BOULDER, Colo.—More students eat school meals and produce when a salad bar is available in school cafeterias, according to a new study that looks at the effect of the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign implemented in 2010. Since the initiative began, more than 3,400 salad bars have been donated to more than 1,000 schools.

Here are the results of the study, conducted by the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition:

  • Salad bars are benefitting low income students, 51% of the students eligible for federal free and reduced-price school meals.
  • Most schools (57%) saw increased student participation in school lunch programs with the addition of salad bars, a value to the National School Lunch Program.
  • A majority of schools (78%) reported purchasing more fruits and vegetables as a result of salad bar implementation.
  • School administrators, teachers, staff and parents are supportive of school salad bars.
  • Schools complemented salad bars with other health promotion activities, including classroom education (87%), taste testing (75%), special days or events (70%) focused on healthy food choices, food service promotion (68%) and cooking classes (53%).
  • School salad bars are an effective way for schools to implement new federal school lunch nutrition standards.