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Valley Journals

Sugar House Schools Get Salad Bar Lunches

Apr 08, 2016 10:08AM ● By Natalie Mollinet

By Natalie Mollinet | natalie@mycityjournals.com

Sugar House - Salt Lake City School District is offering a new way for kids to eat more fruits and veggies — salad bars.

District officials said they are going to replace plastic cups of fruits and veggies with a self-serve station where kids can create their own healthy salads. Taking away the plastic cup allows kids to make their own decisions. The salad bar will feature not only salad, but also different fruits and veggies. This is in hopes that kids will eat more good stuff and throw away less uneaten food and fewer plastic cups. 

The salad bars have shown to be low maintenance and the kids are enjoying picking out their own nutritious food. 

“Everybody has been really positive about it,” Katie Kapusta, an administrator in child nutrition in the Salt Lake City school district, said. “The students have choices, and serving themselves seems to be something they’ve been enjoying.” 

The new changes were implemented in February, so it is still unknown if the district has actually saved money, but the need to waste less is still a priority. 

According to nutrition employees at Highland Park Elementary School, the new salad bar isn’t hard to manage and it has cut down on waste. The only waste they still see is from their chef salad, which is an adult-size portion, but with the salad bar there are smaller portions for students to try. 

“The hope is that it will save money because they’re taking what they want, so there’s less waste,” Kapusta said. “Federal regulations require that students have to take a serving of fruit or veggies every day, and before they were taking something they didn’t want to eat, and now they’re taking what they want.” 

One Highland Park student even admitted to loving the snap peas at the salad bar. 

Students have a choice of different fruits or veggies, and all are catered toward something the child would want, from apples and oranges to little salads with dressings to go on top. After students get their lunches, they head out another door and find the salad and fruit bar waiting for them before they pay for their meal. 

“We like that we can choose the vegetables and fruits that we like,” one Highland Park student said. 

Another student said, “We like that we can have a salad with other meal options instead of having to choose one or the other.” 

The students at Highland Park Elementary were not shy when it came to picking out either an orange or a salad; they were able to make the decision and choose something they were going to eat. 

According to the Salt Lake Health Department, in the United States, 35.7 percent of adults and 17 percent of children (2–19 years old) are considered obese. In Utah, 25 percent of adults are considered obese and childhood obesity has grown since 2011, trends that are also present in Salt Lake County. 

The Utah Health Department suggests that a simple way to fight childhood obesity is to have children eat at least 1–2 cups of fruit and 1–3 cups of vegetables daily. The new way to let kids choose what they want to eat helps them get the fruits and veggies they need.