ACPS Launches Elementary Salad Bars to Boost Student Health and Wellness

ACPS launched its first elementary ‘Greens and More Bar’ at Charles Barrett Elementary School on Friday.

The salad bars, which are a public-private partnership, will be introduced at eight elementary schools across ACPS in the next few months as part of a program designed to boost healthy school environments.

ACPS 2020 pledges to promote efforts to enable students to be healthy and ready to learn through Goal 5 of the Strategic Plan: Health and Wellness. Students who are healthy are better able to learn and attend school than those who are not. Families that are knowledgeable about health and wellness activities are able to encourage their children to make healthy decisions and pursue active lifestyles.

Second-grade students helped themselves to oranges, lettuce, tomatoes and carrots from the salad bar as part of the options available for lunch. Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg, Superintendent Alvin L. Crawley, representatives from the United Fresh Start Foundation and members of the produce industry participated in the launch.

The ‘Greens and More Bar’ has been a fantastic addition to our school lunch program. Our students are being exposed to new fruits and veggies each week, they are learning healthy habits, and the presence of the salad bar has helped our entire school community, including students, teachers and parents, think about making healthy choices,” said Charles Barrett Principal Seth Kennard.

Current USDA nutrition standards for school lunch require serving a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables each week. Salad bars provide an easy way for schools to serve these options. Research and experience in schools across the country demonstrates that children significantly increase their fruit and vegetable consumption when given a variety of choices in a school salad bar. When offered multiple fruit and vegetable choices, children respond by incorporating greater variety and increasing their overall consumption.

The health and wellness of our students is a primary focus of the ACPS 2020 Strategic Plan. We know students do better when they are healthy. We want to make sure that all students have access to healthy food options so that every student has the ability to succeed. This is an example of working with our community partners to ensure we are giving our students access to opportunities from which they can benefit,” said Superintendent Crawley.

The ‘Greens and More Bar’ is a salad bar branding concept developed by the school division’s nutrition services department. Charles Barrett Elementary is one of eight Alexandria schools that will implement a ‘Greens & More Bar’. Jefferson-Houston School and James Polk Elementary School are next in-line to offer this option, with additional schools to be identified in the months ahead.

ACPS serves over 18,000 meals/snacks daily to student’s throughout our school division which includes the expansion of fruit and veggie choices for our students.  We are proud to work alongside the United Fresh Organization, health and nutrition groups, parents and other advocates in promoting healthy lifestyles for ACPS students. Our quest is to provide meals that are healthy and nutritious, and prepare our student’s for a day of learning,” said Director of Nutrition Services Cynthia Hormel.

The United Fresh Start Foundation engages the produce industry, foundations and allied businesses to support salad bars for schools nationwide, as a strategy for increasing children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables every day at school. The Charles Barrett salad bar was supported by produce industry donations coordinated by the United Fresh Start Foundation. These included Dole Food Company, Giant supermarket, Grimmway Farms, National Potato Council, Potatoes USA and Tour de Fresh, a produce industry cycling event to raise funds for school salad bars.

The health and well-being of children in our city are paramount. This new initiative shows the benefit of public and non-profit stakeholders working together for common cause, and I’m very proud of our schools for being leaders in the healthy school movement. It’s great to see this success at Charles Barrett Elementary, and I’m excited to have more schools get started with creating a new generation of healthy eaters,” said Mayor Silberberg.


  1. Both academic research and actual experience in schools across the country have shown that children significantly increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables when given a variety of choices on a school salad bar.
  2. Increased daily access to fruits and vegetables provides a personal experience about choices that can shape a child’s habits far beyond the school lunch line and prepares them for a lifetime of healthy eating.
  3. When offered multiple fruit and vegetable choices, children respond by trying new items, incorporating greater variety into their diets, and increasing their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables.
  4. Salad bars can help increase participation in school lunch. When more students eat school lunches, there are often more funds to allow for further improvements to the school’s meal program.
  5. The USDA supports the use of salad bars as an effective method for meeting the new meal requirements for fruits and vegetables. The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity has also endorsed school salad bars as a tool for providing healthier food choices to kids.
  6. Salad bars are a great way to utilize school garden vegetables and let kids taste what they’ve grown. This also educates children on what fresh grown foods look like when served in the raw state.
  7. Salad bars are a smart first step to incorporating not only healthier, but also fresh foods into a school lunch program.
  8. Salad bars can help raise community awareness about positive food changes being made at schools. They are also a useful tool for increasing parents’ involvement in their children’s school meals.
ACPS, ACPS 2020, Charles Barrett, Jefferson-Houston, Polk