WASHINGTON, D.C. – Thanks to a partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the United Fresh Start Foundation, when students at six Michigan school districts return from winter break, they will see new salad bars in their school cafeterias.
The salad bars will be installed in 20 schools and are part of the national Salad Bars to Schools initiative, which provides equipment and resources to empower children to make healthier food choices, including trying new items and incorporating a greater variety of fruits and vegetables into daily meals.
Special this year, food service staff will also receive a commercial grade sectionizer-slicer to easily and quickly prepare a variety of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables for stocking the salad bars. Since 2015, over 100 salad bars have been placed in Michigan schools with support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, benefitting more than 50,000 students.
“Blue Cross is proud to support salad bars in Michigan schools to increase access to a variety of healthy options during school meals to thousands of students across Michigan,” said Ken Hayward, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan vice president and special assistant to the president for Community Relations. “Healthy, nutrient-rich food choices are a critical component to helping children and adolescents lead healthier lifestyles and maintain well-being.”
Healthy habits are formed in childhood and through early, consistent exposure to a variety of fresh fruit and vegetable choices. School-based interventions, such as providing students with fruit and vegetable choices from a salad bar, can help schools to comply with USDA nutrition standards for the National School Lunch Program. Salad bars are also cited as an effective strategy to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, helping to better prepare children for a lifetime of healthy eating.
“This partnership is so valuable, not just to the schools who are benefitting, but also for what this collaboration represents,” said Andrew Marshall, Director of Foodservice and Foundation Partnerships, United Fresh Produce Association. BB #:145458
“Both of our organizations understand how critically important it is that children have access to meals at school that include a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. With childhood obesity, and rates of diabetes, continuing to rise, along with the reality that those with diet-related conditions are at a much greater health risk, there’s never been a more important time to prioritize healthy eating, both for our children and families.”
The United Fresh Start Foundation is committed to helping schools establish environments that encourage healthy eating. Through Salad Bars to Schools, as well as other initiatives that support K-12 schools with their ability to source, serve and promote fresh fruits and vegetables, the United Fresh Start Foundation is addressing the crisis of childhood obesity and creating opportunities for children to select healthier meals and snacks at school. Over the past ten years, Salad Bars to Schools has delivered nearly 6,000 salad bars to schools across the country, including more than 400 salad bars to schools in Michigan.
Additionally, the recently released United Fresh publication, Fresh Insights for Foodservice – Fall 2021, spotlights how K-12 school foodservice operators are continuing to make fresh fruit and veggies available to children each day, despite current supply chain and other challenges. The report includes perspectives from ten school menu planners from different parts of the country.
Michigan schools receiving salad bars and equipment from the 2021-2022 collaboration include:
• Comstock Park Public Schools, Comstock Park
o Pine Island Elementary School
o Comstock Park High School
• Ionia Public Schools, Ionia
o Douglas Welch High School
o Ionia Middle School
o Ionia High School (2)
o Twin Rivers Elementary School
o AA Rather Elementary School
o RB Boyce Elementary School
o Jefferson Elementary School
o Emerson Elementary School
• Beecher Community Schools, Mount Morris
o Beecher High School
o Dailey Elementary School
• Roscommon Area Public Schools, Roscommon
o Roscommon High School
• South Lake Schools, St. Clair Shores
o Avalon Elementary
o Elmwood Elementary
o Koepsell Elementary
o South Lake Middle School
• Fitzgerald Schools, Warren
o Schofield Elementary School
o Westview Elementary School (2)
o Fitzgerald High School (2)
About United Fresh Start Foundation
The United Fresh Start Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization focused exclusively on increasing children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Affiliated with the United Fresh Produce Association, a leading trade association for the fresh fruit and vegetable industry, the Foundation is committed to helping today’s kids achieve the public health goal to make half their plate fruits and vegetables in order to live longer and healthier lives. The Foundation works to create an environment in which kids have easy access to high-quality, great-tasting and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, whenever and wherever they are choosing snacks or a meal. The United Fresh Start Foundation is also founding partner of the national Salad Bars to Schools initiative. More information is available at: http://www.unitedfreshstart.org/.
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides health benefits to more than 4.7 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies residing outside the state. The company has been committed to delivering affordable health care products through a broad variety of plans for businesses, individuals and seniors for 80 years. Beyond health care coverage, BCBSM supports impactful community initiatives and provides leadership in improving health care. For more information, visit bcbsm.com and MiBluesPerspectives.com.