School Gardens and Salad Bars for Kids

What a concept!

Imagine a school where kids of all ages had the opportunity to learn, hands on, about growing a garden and fresh veggies offered to them in a salad bar on a daily basis!

Yes, I’m excited about this, because it’s not just a hypothetical, nice idea, it’s real.

Thanks to the Whole Kids Foundation[1], a nonprofit 501(c)(3) founded by Whole Foods Market, whose mission is to support schools and inspire families to improve children’s nutrition and wellness. Given the right opportunities, kids will get excited about fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other nutritious whole foods.

I didn’t even know this foundation existed until today, when I was paying for my groceries, and the cashier asked if I’d like to donate to the current organization that Whole Foods is helping to promote awareness of.

When I asked what this particular foundation did, I was in, in a heartbeat.

A quick look at what they’re all about and I knew I had to do something to let others know this exists!

From their site:

Their goals are:

  • Help kids learn to love fresh, nutritious, whole foods
  • Increase access to and consumption of these foods in schools
  • Inspire families to prepare and share these foods at home
  • Encourage community action that supports healthier kids
  • Create support tools for educators, who play a vital role in modeling and teaching healthy choices
  • End the childhood obesity epidemic

And what they do:

  • Provide schools with salad bars through our partnership with Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools
  • Provide grants for school gardens and related programs
  • Offer cooking and nutrition education for school teachers and staff
  • Support The Lunch Box online tools, which help cafeterias transition to serving more fresh, whole foods

Sounds great, right?
But then, inevitably comes the next line of questions- who gets access to this? And how does one go about attempting to get such a program in their children’s’ schools?

That’s where their grant program comes in.

Any school can apply to the School Garden Grant[2], and any individual can get involved by helping to fund salad bars for kids in school as well as the healthy teacher’s program[3].

Studies show that when kids are presented with veggies that are actually cooked properly and well presented, surprise, surprise, they are more likely to eat them compared to when they’re not.

When kids were offered sauteed broccoli in garlic and olive oil or vegetable soup instead of hideous piles of indistinguishable greens, they tended to eat more of the healthful food.” Stated Juliana Cohen, a research associate at Harvard’s School of Public Health.[4]

Poorly prepared and presented veggies could well explain what could appear to have been a failed healthy lunch program in which kids who were given more veggies, threw more away.

The lunches are “free,” but are so unappetizing thanks to new nutrition standards that much food is thrown away. “It is horrible,” one inner-city principal, in an interview in the Wall Street Journal, who is responsible for 1,200 students and 10,000 meals a week.

“It is just heartbreaking how much food is thrown away”[5].

Does the statement that the healthy food is unappetizing thanks to new nutrition standards mean that without the fried food, the creamed food, and the sugary and salty food that there’s no way to disguise the taste of the food, therefore that’s why the kids are throwing it all away?

Who knows?

But given that kids (and adults) are more likely to eat healthy food that tastes good (there’s a huge discovery!) and that kids who are more engaged in the process of gardening, grocery shopping and cooking are more likely to be intrigued as to what they’re eating[6], there’s all the more reason to do whatever we can to help get gardens in schools, salad bars in their cafeterias, kids wanting to eat healthier foods and consequentially, putting the brakes on the obesity epidemic.

What other choice is there, really?




[4] “When the School Lunch Lady Works with a Chef, Kids Eat Their Fruits and Vegetables.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2015

[5] The School Lunch Program With an Unappetizing Report Card.” WSJ. The Wall Street Journal, n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2015

[6] Erbentraut, Joseph. “School Gardens Can Help Kids Learn Better And Eat Healthier. So Why Aren’t They Everywhere?” The Huffington Post., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2015