With a week left to go, our customers have already donated over $1,228,000 to put salad bars in public schools across the U.S. That amazing amount is enough for about 491 schools and we aren't through yet. We'll be collecting donations through the end of September, so keep donating at the registers or online. The more we raise, the more local schools will be able to have salad bars.In case you've missed some of the details along the way, here's how it works. The donated money goes to our partner, Chef Ann Cooper's Food, Family, Farming Foundation (F3), who is conducting a grant process where schools apply for one of these free salad bars. Now don't get worried when you hear the word "grant." They have made it a very simple process. The whole point of the formal grant is to make sure that the schools receiving the salad bars have the support they need to make good use of them.The grant money will be used to buy the physical salad bar. Each school that is chosen will receive a portable, five-well Cambro salad bar complete with utensils, pan inserts, chilling pads and training tools. Chef Ann's The Lunch Box will provide the necessary training tools and ongoing support to help ensure proper management. The food on these salad bars will be provided through the school's current buying channels for procuring food -- not provided by our stores. (All school districts buy food on contract or bid and do not have the ability to bring food in from non-wholesale vendors -- in many cases it is not even legal for them to do so!)
We hope you will all help us get the word out about the grants. Any public school — elementary, middle, junior or high — within a 50-mile radius of a Whole Foods Market store is eligible to apply. F3 will be accepting grant applications through November 15th. Schools selected by F3 will be announced by January 15, 2011 and salad bar kits will be shipped to schools within a month.Any parent, teacher, food service worker or other concerned person can make sure that eligible schools are aware of The Salad Bar Project. In fact, we know that parents and teachers are often the drivers of making great new things like this happen for their schools. We're depending on you to help get the word out about the grants so a school administrator can complete the online grant application.Within 50 miles of any of our stores, you will find a range of schools in neighborhoods of varying economic levels. We believe that all kids deserve healthy lunches, regardless of their economic background or geographic location. That why it's exciting that The Salad Bar Project is designed to keep growing and expanding to many more schools over time. We are jumpstarting the process with the help of our customers — and we look forward to the expansion of the program in all areas of the country.Learn more in our salad bar FAQ, encourage your local school to visit The Salad Bar Project to apply for a grant, and continue to donate to the cause at the registers or online. Thanks for your support!