( National Potato Council )

The National Potato Council and United Fresh Start Foundation recently joined students, teachers and staff at a Virginia grade school for a “Celebration of Potatoes” lunchtime event.

At the event, held at the Lemon Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Va., students learned how and where potatoes are grown, about different varieties, as well as potato nutrition benefits, according to a news release. All students also enjoyed a Greek-inspired potato salad from the school’s new salad bar. 

“Potatoes are highly nutritious cost-effective vegetables that kids love to eat. Salad bars empower schools to offer healthy potato options that meet all K-12 school foodservice guidelines,” Kam Quarles, vice president of public policy for the National Potato Council, said in the release. “We are proud to help Fairfax schools achieve their nutrition goals by introducing kids to new ways of enjoying potatoes.”

The National Potato Council partnered with the United Fresh Start Foundation to provide three salad bars to the Fairfax County Public Schools earlier this year, according to the release. 

The salad bars, part of the national Salad Bars to Schools initiative, also are part of a multi-year potato industry campaign that has provided salad bars to more than 300 schools across the U.S. in the last three years, according to the release.

Recipient schools receive salad bars along with potato recipes, serving suggestions and other materials to assist K-12 school foodservice operators with utilizing potatoes on their menu, according to the release.

“The potato industry has been a valuable partner in helping to provide salad bars to schools across the country,” Andrew Marshall, United Fresh director of foodservice and foundation partnerships and representing the United Fresh Start Foundation, said in the release.

“The generosity of potato growers, and the forethought of the potato industry to educate children about the different ways they can enjoy potatoes has yielded a successful partnership for all parties involved.” 

Rodney Taylor, food and nutrition services director for Fairfax County Public Schools, has sought to have a salad bar in every elementary school in his district since he started at his position in 2015.

“We greatly appreciate the produce industry, supporters of the national Salad Bars to Schools initiative, as well as our local partners, who all have helped to make salad bars an important part of our school nutrition program,” Taylor said in the release. “The salad bars give us the ability to increase offerings and encourage kids to choose fresh produce every time they eat with us. And guess what? They do!”