Grower-shippers have a chance to enhance their produce business while doing a good deed for local students, said Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition for the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association.
United Fresh, along with three other founding partners, has signed on with first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools program, and members are making a difference in the way kids eat at school, she said.
In Southern California, for example, Dole Food Co., Westlake Village, recently donated salad bars to the Fred L. Williams School in Oxnard, Calif., and the Richard Bard School in Port Hueneme, Calif.
“Salad bar donations are a natural extension of Dole’s ongoing commitment to childhood nutrition,” Marty Ordman, Dole’s vice president of marketing and corporate communications, said in a news release.
“By targeting school settings, we can help young people make healthier choices and get more fruits and vegetables on their plates.”
In Delano, Calif., Pandol Bros. Inc. recently donated a salad bar to the Nueva Vista School, and in Bakersfield, Calif., Sun World International LLC donated two salad bars at Tevis Junior High School.
In Cincinnati, Chiquita Brand International Inc. helped place salad bars in all 53 schools in a single year, DiSogra said.
“We are committed to promoting better childhood nutrition and wellness, and we are pleased to join United Fresh in this campaign,” Chiquita chairman and chief executive officer Fernando Aguirre said in a news release.
Publix Super Markets Inc., Lakeland, Fla., has donated salad bars to schools in the Southeast.
About 1,000 salad bars have been donated nationwide since the first lady launched the Let’s Move! campaign about a year ago. Of that number, United Fresh members donated about 160, DiSogra said.
The need for donations remains, however, since 900 applications remained unfunded as of November. But DiSogra is optimistic.
“This initiative — Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools — has captured everybody’s attention and commitment,” she said.
“When schools have a salad bar, those kids actually have the opportunity every single day to fill up half their plate with fruits and vegetables.”
United Fresh started its salad bar program as the Salad Bar in Every School initiative in 2009, she said, but merged with Obama’s program nine months later.
Other founding partners are the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance, Food Family Farming Foundation and the Whole Foods Market Foundation.
“I think the industry has really embraced this,” DiSogra said. “It’s really the right thing to be doing.”