Del Monte and Marc's donate salad bars to Cleveland-area schools
Discount grocer Marc’s has teamed up with Del Monte Fresh Produce to provide self-serve salad bars to three schools in Mentor, OH, as part of the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative.
The donations were celebrated Oct. 8 with a ribbon-cutting at Mentor High School in front of the school’s new salad bar. The event brought together school administrators, students and produce and retail grocery executives to celebrate the donations and observe students as they used the salad bar to fill up their lunch trays with fresh fruit and vegetables.
“As part of our commitment to the community, we take great pride in promoting healthy eating habits and increasing students’ access to fruits and vegetables in school lunchrooms,” Marc Glassman, founder of Marc’s, said in a press release. “We’re pleased to come together with our partners at Del Monte Fresh to make this positive, healthy change possible.”
“It’s always great partnering with a customer like Marc’s, which embodies the same values as us,” Dionysios Christou, vice president of marketing at Del Monte Fresh Produce, said in the release. “It is our responsibility to give back to the communities we operate in and to make a lasting impact on society. Allowing students to ‘customize’ their healthy lunches with a large variety of fresh produce is the perfect tool to instill healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.”
According to Jeni Lange, supervisor of nutrition services for the Mentor Public Schools, “We began implementing these new salad bars three weeks ago and they are tremendously popular with our students. They are selecting fresh produce to top their hamburgers and sandwiches as well as making side salads, grabbing a piece of fruit and some are just taking veggies to dip with dressing. We’re seeing our students take, and eat, a lot more fruits and vegetables.”
She also added, “The salad bars are new, so we are still learning the best way to use them with our current meal programs, but it is clear students really like the option to customize their meals. At Mentor Public Schools we are committed to moving our meal program forward with new innovative ideas that expand upon a typical salad bar approach.”
While there is growing awareness of the benefits that salad bars provide to kids, such as providing a visually appealing array of options that empower students to make their own healthy choices, many school foodservice programs do not have the capital funds available to purchase salad bar equipment on their own.
"We would not have been able to get salad bars, if not for this opportunity," Lange said in the release. "Now that we have salad bars, it’s a huge attraction and we have more students eating a healthy meal at school.”
The salad bars donated to Mentor Public Schools are the first salad bars implemented by the school district. The district was interested in using salad bars as a way to encourage more students to participate in their meal program, as well as to meet new federal school lunch nutrition standards that require schools to serve an increased amount and variety of fruit and vegetables each day.
Del Monte and Marc’s coordinated the donations with the United Fresh Start Foundation, a founding partner of the national Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, which works with the produce industry, non-profit foundations, healthcare partners and allied business to support salad bars for schools, as a strategy to increase children’s consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables every day at school.
To date, the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative has facilitated the donation of salad bars to more than 4,100 schools nationwide, benefitting nearly 3 million children every school day. This includes 150 salad bars for Ohio schools. Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools supports first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation.