“It’s such a disservice to the students,” Margaret D’Arrigo-Martin, vice president of community development at Taylor Farms, said of the removal. “The industry has worked very hard to fund these salad bars for the schools. I think the children deserve access to fresh fruits and vegetables, especially in this county where they’re grown.”
D’Arrigo-Martin has led Grower-Shipper Association Foundation efforts to offer trainings to area schools starting or hoping to strengthen salad bar programs.
“There’s labor involved in maintaining one, but there’s a way to do it cost effectively if there’s buy-in from the top down,” she said. “Everybody’s got to work together on it. I think we can help them be successful in re-launching their program.”
D’Arrigo-Martin planned to meet with the district’s superintendent. “It’s not our role to go up against the labor union, but we want to provide support,” she said.
United Fresh offered its assistance to the Monterey district and the California Department of Education. Ultimately the matter will be resolved locally.
“There’s probably going to be some good learning from this that informs future rollout of the salad bar program,” DeLyser said.