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The Produce Marketing Association (PMA), as a member of the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance, has donated a salad bar to John R. Downes Elementary School in Newark, Del., in support of the “Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools” and First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, which focus on giving children access to healthy foods.
The May 11 donation ceremony opened with a pep rally during the students’ lunch hour, which was attended by Mr. Celery, mascot of the minor-league Wilmington Blue Rocks baseball team; Rep. John Carney (D-Del.); Newark Mayor Vance Funk; and Bryan Silbermann, president and CEO of Newark-based PMA
“It’s important that young people learn how to eat healthy at an early age,” noted Carney. “We know that children who eat a healthy diet are much more likely to continue good eating habits as they grow older. … Making sure every child has a nutritious lunch will give them more energy and help them perform better in school.”
In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM) found that schools need to add as many as two servings of fruits and vegetables daily to meet children’s basic health requirements. Recent rules from USDA require fruit and vegetable offerings to be doubled in school meals.
“Having a salad bar option for our elementary school students is an innovative idea that will encourage children to make healthy eating choices,” said Christina School District superintendent Dr. Marcia V. Lyles. “PMA has truly demonstrated that it is an outstanding community partner willing to help support positive opportunities for our children to live healthier lifestyles.”
“PMA [has built] on the foundation that the United Fresh Produce Association built with ‘Salad Bars to Schools,’ which has now been elevated to a national program -- Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools -- supporting the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance and the First Lady’s initiatives for a healthier America,” observed Silbermann. “This effort to increase consumption of produce creates an otherwise missed opportunity to improve the lives and healthful eating habits of schoolchildren for generations to come.”