Even though summer has just started for the kids in the Washington, DC Public School system, one school is already thinking about fall! Brent Elementary, home to just over 300 K-5th graders, received a salad bar for their lunchroom through our Salad Bar Project grant process, and their parent-inspired “Salad Team” is making plans for keeping the energy going when the kids come back to school in the fall.Last year, our shoppers donated $1.4 million to grant 564 salad bars to schools around the country. Whole Foods Market matched that generosity with an additional $1 million and as part of Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, we are currently working to put 6000 salad bars in schools across the nation.
Brent Elementary is one of the first schools to receive their salad bars, and they are a great example of parent/teacher involvement helping to take full advantage of community resources. Jessica Smith, a passionate parent, decided to spearhead the salad bar grant application process and formed the “Salad Team.” When asked about the project, Jessica says, “You know, it’s moms and dads doing what they can.” And it’s making a difference. Brent also has a “Green Team” made of up parents and teachers who are working to make environmental improvements on campus and who are the liaisons for the Let’s Move program. The school has two Chef’s Move partners — Michael Bonk of Sonoma and Matt Hill from Charlie Palmer Steak House.Having been deeply involved in the Salad Bar Project, The Lunch Box healthy tools for schools, and Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools for the past couple of years, it’s particularly gratifying to begin sharing the success stories from the more than 700 salad bars that have been provided to schools across the nation!
Jessica told me about the amazing energy surrounding the salad bar launch in March. The Salad Team made sure there was a mouth-watering display of fresh fruits and veggies to entice the kids to the salad bar. “Now we’re faced with keeping the interest up and finding creative ways to promote the salad bar,” she explained. “We had a Strawberries & Salad Day to help the kids understand the seasonality of local fruits. The kids loved it so much we ran out of strawberries.” One idea the school is exploring for the fall is education about a fruit or vegetable of the month that is also served on the salad bar.
Paula Reichel, Program Coordinator from DCPS Office of Food & Nutrition Services let us know that adding the salad bar fit perfectly with the deep commitments the district has made to improve the quality of food they serve. Amidst a wide array of changes was a rewrite of the Chartwell’s (the district’s third party food service provider) contract so that all menu items meet the Healthier US Schools Gold requirements and the Institute of Medicine nutritional standards. In addition, at least 20% of produce must be purchased from the local area and they eliminated flavored milk and highly sugared cereals.
When Daniel Thaeler, the marketing team leader at our P Street store, visited Brent Elementary in the spring he shared that the most striking difference from other schools was the energy. “It was contagious! From outdoor Teach and Learn Gardens to a Chef Series to the Salad Bar. Although the DCPS, DC Farms to Schools and stores like Whole Foods Market have helped provide stepping stones, it’s the commitment of parents, teachers, administrators and students of Brent who want change and are not afraid to be creative.”We applaud the Brent Elementary community for taking advantage of every resource available, providing ways for even the busiest parents to be involved, and for putting in the extra effort this summer to inspire their students to continue making healthy food choices for life!Nona Evans acts as the Salad Bar Project Coordinator for Whole Foods Market. Over the past 11 years she has worked to create a brand of marketing for the company that truly makes a difference in the communities we serve.