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Whole Foods Market has awarded grants for more than 500 free salad bars through the Salad Bar Project, an initiative created to help schools boost students' midday consumption of fruits and vegetables.
The grocer’s shoppers exceeded the goal of $750,000, donating more than $1.4 million during a four-week in-store and online fundraising campaign in September. The company teamed with Chef Ann Cooper’s nonprofit organization, F3: Food Family Farming Foundation, to administer the grant application process. The foundation has garnered over 700 applications and has scheduled shipment of 460 salad bars so far, and is finalizing the review of 90 additional qualifying schools. A current list of schools that have received salad bars is available at www.saladbars2schools.org.
“We were blown away by the generosity of our shoppers,” said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market. “We nearly doubled the number of schools we had originally expected to support”
To make an even bigger impact in lunchrooms across the United States, the company has become founding partner of "Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools," whose aim is to provide 6,000 salad bars throughout the country by 2013.
“The best part about the salad bars is the smiles on the kids’ faces when they see the great fresh choices we can now offer,” said Jamie Smith, manager of food services for Santa Cruz City Schools in California. “They have quickly made theme bar days like ‘taco salad bar’ and ‘make your own veggie pita’ some of our most popular days.”
All schools receiving grants will be sent healthy salad bar kits in the next few weeks. The kits include a five-well Cambro salad bar featuring utensils, pan inserts, chilling pads and training tools. Salad bar training tools and videos for school nutrition staff are additionally available through www.TheLunchBox.org, which Whole Foods customers helped to raise funds to build in 2009 so all schools can access healthier food tools and ideas.