United Fresh, salad bar, gets props in Post coverage

03/01/2010 09:03:07 AM
Tom Karst

We offer our students and staff members a full salad bar every day, thanks to the donation of a refrigerated bar from the United Fresh Produce Association. It is simply not true that kids do not eat vegetables. What is true is that they will not eat -- nor will most adults -- vegetables that have been frozen or processed until they become nasty mush. Our kids ravage that salad bar every day. We literally run out of most things we put out, especially the uncooked cauliflower, broccoli and leaf spinach. And these are pre-K through sixth-graders!

We are not a rich school. Our funds are limited. So the second reason we were able to do this is that we asked for, and received, a lot of help.

A small, superbly effective Washington-based nonprofit called Through the Kitchen Door, with funding from Kaiser Permanente, made our start-up possible. Through the Kitchen Door secured donations of most of the equipment we needed, much of which came from Whole Foods Market, which has a program of promoting healthy nutrition in local schools. We used money from the stimulus bill to buy a commercial refrigerator, freezer and a hot holding cabinet and to hire three additional kitchen staff members.

Our wish list of needs is still long, but little by little we are making progress. One parent owns a local farmer's market and is putting us in touch with farmers who can supply us year-round. Thanks in part to the first lady, improving school lunches has shot to the top of the nutrition agenda in Washington, which makes this a good time to apply for grants. We are making full use of every fruit and vegetable program that the U.S. government offers.

We work bare bones at the moment. But everyone in the building is devoted to the idea that when children are properly nourished and their bodies are healthier, they can learn, think and play better, and are ultimately better equipped to reach their potential.

Lisa Dobbs is the Stokes kitchen chef. Linda Moore is founder and director of the school.


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