In legislation supported by a broad array of industry and health groups, Democrat lawmakers in the House of Representatives have introduced the Salad Bar in Schools Expansion Act.
 
Reps. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, Sam Farr, D-Calif., Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., said in a news release from Ryan’s office that the legislation establishes a new program to provide training, technical assistance and placement of salad bars in elementary, middle and high schools in the U.S.
 
The trend toward increasing child obesity must be reversed, Ryan said.
 
“Salad bars have proven to be an effective and affordable way to make school lunch more nutritious,” he said in the release.
 
The bill would require Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to establish a plan to promote the use of salad bars in schools using the USDA school lunch program. The bill also authorizes training and technical assistance for schools to boost salad bar use, including Web seminars, workshops, nutrition education and resources for implementation. Though not revealing funding targets, the law’s language would give grants to help schools acquire salad bars will be made available on a competitive bid basis, according to the text of the legislation.
 
The legislation will enhance students access to fresh fruits and vegetables at school lunch and help to transform school food environments, Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of United Fresh Produce Association, said in the release.
 
“Salad bars are an effective strategy to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, introduce kids to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and one of the easiest ways for schools to successfully implement healthier school lunch standards,” Stenzel said in the release.
 
With Congress beginning debate on reauthorization of child nutrition programs, advocates said it was important to keep the mandate that schools serve at least a half-a-cup of fruits and vegetables with each school meal.
 
“Instead of lining up our kids for pepperoni pizza, let’s make sure salad bars encourage them to choose fruits, vegetables, and beans every day,” said Colin Schwartz, director of government affairs for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.