A collaboration between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and United Fresh Start Foundation will introduce salad bars to 20 Michigan schools this year.
The initiative, called Salad Bars to Schools, is a national program which has already introduced salad bars to over 320 schools throughout the United States. The program was founded by the Chef Ann Foundation, National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance, United Fresh Start Foundation and Whole Foods Market in support of former first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative.
The 20 salad bars will benefit over 6,000 students by offering healthier school meal alternatives, allowing students to choose fruits and vegetables, and introducing them to making and keeping healthier habits. Nationally, Salad Bars to Schoolshas granted over 5,000 salad bars to schools, benefiting over 2.6 million children.
“BCBSM is proud to support the efforts of the initiative,” Lynda Rossi, Executive Vice President of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, said. “These salad bars will help students by giving them easy access to fresh fruit and vegetables.”
The Michigan schools receiving new salad bars are located all across the state. Students at some schools located in the cities of Ada, Au Gres, Brethren, Carson City, Detroit, Grand Haven, Marquette, Romeo, Flint, St. Clair Shores and Swartz Creek will be greeted by the new salad bars in their school’s cafeteria this upcoming school year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents aged 2-19 has tripled over the past 38 years. Currently, 12.5 million American children among the same age group are clinically obese.
In addition, one-third of white children and one-half of African American or Hispanic children born in the year 2000 will contract diabetes.
“Kids respond to the variety of produce options by picking the items they like best and possibly trying something new,” said Andrew Marshall, Director of Foundation Programs and Partnerships for the UFSF. “Having a salad bar shows community members that the school values a healthy environment.”
Based on the continued success of the program, there are 29 additional Michigan schools or school districts that have applied to become a part of Salad Bars to Schools, but they have not received full funding yet.