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Salad Bar Soap Box

Posted Aug 18 2010 5:30pm
So something really exciting happened on my birthday.

I mean, besides the fact that I was born.

This year, August 11th not only commemorated my entrance into the world, but also the start of a really great campaign to improve school lunches. Considering this has been my newly ignited passion and cause since obsessing over Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution last spring, I was incredibly excited to hear about The Great American Salad Bar Project. Whole Foods is partnering to promote this fundraising campaign to help area schools improve the health and nutrition factor of their cafeterias. For every $2,500 raised, that is one school who can have a salad bar in its lunchroom. Considering that french fries are considered a vegetable by law, this would be a nice turn in the right direction.

I am not a political person, y'all, and I've never been the type to crazily rally around an organization or mission, but this is one cause I can stand behind.

I have seen kids' lunch trays filled with pizza, a roll, and french fries...and somehow that is considered a well-rounded, healthy meal. What? Since when?

I have also taken kindergarteners on a field trip to the local grocery where they didn't know what "real" carrots looked liked, nor did they recognize a potato that wasn't in processed form.

I had a student who was gaining weight, so her mother banned her from eating cake at class parties, yet sent her to school with soda and chips as her morning snack.

However, when I have taught kids about healthy food, they have been 100% intrigued and willing to try and explore other options. Those kindergarteners were fascinated by jalapenos and my explanation of yucca. My fifth graders were enthralled by "green nuts" (pistachios) and loved to sample fresh pineapple and papaya. They were also intrigued by the idea of sustainable fishing and the health factor of 'small fish,' like sardines.

I think that when juice is considered a (whole) fruit and tater tots are a vegetable, we have got something to worry about.

People underestimate kids and their willingness to try new things and eat healthier.

News Flash: They can't try nutritious food if it isn't available to them.

Donate at any Whole Foods or online . And if you are a teacher or administrator working at a school within 50 miles of any Whole Foods location, you can fill out a grant application starting September 1st. Support The Great American Salad Bar Project .

OK. I'm putting away the soapbox now.
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