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Students load up on veggies at new salad bars in Elkhart County schools

At two Elkhart County school districts, more students are lining up at the salad bar for lunch.

Elkhart and Fairfield school corporations recently received donated salad bars from the United Fresh Produce Association, a produce advocacy group that partnered with Martin’s Supermarkets, Dole and Caito Foods for the donation through a program called Let’s Move Salad Bars to Midwest Schools.

Federal school lunch requirements

Offering a salad bar can help schools comply with the federal governments’ Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

This act requires schools to offer a variety of different kinds of vegetables and fruits every day.

That means hundreds of kids at Millersburg Elementary, West Side Middle School and Pierre Moran Middle School now have the opportunity to build healthy plates from a salad bar at lunchtime.

For West Side student Kallie Canfield, salad every day is pretty exciting.

“Last year, we only had salad on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I always got it,” she said during lunch Tuesday, Sept. 30. “This year, it’s here every day so I eat it every day.”

The highlight of the salad bar for Kallie, she explained, is the big bowl of lettuce, cucumbers and jalapenos.

Pam Melcher, food service director at Elkhart Community Schools, said students are showing a growing interest in eating salad for lunch.

The district applied for the salad bar grant for West Side and Pierre Moran to increase the fruit and vegetable options available for students, she said.

Seven Elkhart elementary schools also participate in the USDA fresh fruit and veggie snack program, which provides fruits and vegetables for students to try during a snack time at school.

At Millersburg Elementary in the Fairfield Schools district, food service director Vickie Richardson noticed that the prepackaged chef salad was a top seller among student lunch options, so it made sense to try for a grant to install a salad bar there.

“Kids at Millersburg love salad,” she said.

Plus, Richardson added, Millersburg may be a K-8 school in the future, and the older students would be interested in the salad bar option because Fairfield Jr./Sr. High already has a salad bar.

Andrew Marshall, a representative of United Fresh, said the salad bar grant program began in Indiana four years ago and has since helped provide around 90 salad bars to Indiana schools.

Schools that apply get a salad bar when companies such as Dole, Caito Foods and Martin’s step up to support the project, he added.

Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks

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