Whole Foods to the rescue

Taking the step to help children eat more healthfully.

Whole Foods, the Austin, Texas-based upscale grocery chain, is putting some money behind its pledge to help schoolchildren eat more healthfully.

Whole Foods announced that it will install salad bars in hundreds of schools around the country, under a program called The Salad Bar Project. Which schools—and how many—receive salad bars will be determined by three criteria: proximity to a Whole Foods Market (within 50 miles), how many children are enrolled in the National School Lunch Program, and how able the school would be to sustain the salad bar once it were installed.

Whole Foods emphasized that it would pay only for the salad bars, at a cost of about $2,500 per bar. The schools would be responsible for keeping the bars stocked with healthful items. Deserving schools will be notified in January.

I know that it the past I have been skeptical about people, companies and organizations that have offered to pitch in to make foods healthier for schoolchildren. I have suggested that such groups may be grandstanding or, at the very least, offering solutions to the problem of childhood obesity that would be unworkable in most situations.

Not this time. Any school Whole Foods can help with this project is one more school that can take a positive step toward curing this epidemic. In a perfect world, Whole Foods and companies like it would band together and provide needed equipment for every school in the United States.

It’s not a perfect solution, but any step is better than no step. I hope Whole Foods finds more deserving schools than it can accommodate—and announce that fact, so that other companies can step in to continue the push. That would suggest two things: a large number of schools are willing to make the necessary changes in their food programs, and companies are willing to make the financial sacrifice to help them achieve their goals.

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