Salad bars come to the San Francisco Unified School District

Parents and students who have clamored for more fresh food in school lunches are getting their wish in 2007-08 as salad bars are opening in the cafeterias of 25 San Francisco public schools - another step forward in the San Francisco Unified School District's commitment to improving school meals.

The salad bars are funded by a $500,000 grant from Mayor Gavin Newsom's office and the city's Department of Children, Youth and Their Families. Each features organic romaine and a choice of several mostly California grown raw vegetables, in addition to a variety of fresh fruit and whole-grain breads and muffins, all offered in addition to the regular hot lunch at no additional charge to students.

Low-income students who qualify for subsidized meals get both the hot entrée and the salad bar for free, while others may purchase the complete meal including salad bar for $2 (adults pay $3).

Schools with salad bars now include Harvey Milk, Miraloma, Ulloa, Starr King, John Yehall Chin, Fairmount, Grattan, West Portal, Bret Harte ES; Giannini, Francisco, Marina, Presidio, Excelsior, Horace Mann, and Viz Valley MS; and Balboa, Newcomer, June Jordan, T. Marshall, Mission, and Lowell HS. Opening this spring are Galileo, Lincoln, and Washington HS, and James Lick MS. Schools were selected to receive a salad bar based on a variety of criteria, including whether the cafeteria had space to accommodate the bar without expensive modification, existing refrigeration capacity, and location, with schools selected from all around the City and at all grade levels.

Since the salad bars began opening in the fall of 2007, about 16% more students on average are eating the cafeteria lunch at participating schools, with some schools showing increases of nearly 60%.

Survey results from 14 district schools revealed that expansion of the salad bars was second on most parents' wish list for school food related issues, with continued improvements to hot meals ranking first. Unfortunately, state budget cuts impacting the school district may jeopardize expansion of the project in 2008-09. Outside funding is being sought to help open more salad bars.

Response from students has been overwhelmingly positive. As one Grattan Elementary School student put it, "It's the greatest thing that ever happened to our school!"

February 2008

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