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Michelle Obama’s Salad Bar Could Eclipse Sloppy Joe In Cafeterias

Michelle Obama announced a plan to install 6,000 salad bars in elementary schools across the country. Could lawmakers soon affect wider change to school lunch?

Veggies For Lunch

Michelle Obama made a trip to Little Havana, Florida on Monday to promote salad bars in schools. The visit was part of her Let’s Move campaign to end childhood obesity.

Riverside Elementary School is the first school of a proposed 6,000 to install a salad bar in the cafeteria. She was joined by chef from the Miami area, some of whom demonstrated how to assemble a salad for the kids. Michael Schwartz advised that the more colors you put on your plate, the healthier it is for you, “and a crouton is not a vegetable!”

Healthy eating is nothing new to the kids at Riverside. Taking advantage of the Florida weather, there is a garden with fruits and vegetables in the school’s courtyard. Additionally, many schools in the Miami-Dade school system have farm-to-school programs in place to bring fresh foods to students directly, and schools have partnered with chefs to make healthy school lunches. “A good public education is about more than just a child’s mind,” says Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “It’s also about a child’s body.”

This project is a partnership with Ann Cooper, director of nutrition services for the schools in Boulder, Colorado, U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention, the produce industry, and the White House. Working with Whole Foods, Cooper and co. raised $1.4 million dollars to establish a grant program, which is enough funding to supply salad bars to nearly all the schools who applied for the grant: 564.

Back On The Table

Lawmakers in the house may soon vote to affect wider change to school lunches by approving the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The $4.5 billion bill passed the Senate earlier this year but was held up in the House by Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Jim McGovern of Massachusetts. They originally opposed funding it using $2.2 billion from future food stamps programs but have now agreed to support it since the White House promised to restore food stamp funding.

If the Senate version of the bill passes the House, it will go straight to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

The bill would provides $40 million in mandatory funding to help schools establish school gardens and source local foods into their cafeterias. It would also increase the federal reimbursement rate for school lunches to 6 cents per meal, which would help schools meet new meal standards to provide children with healthier school meals.

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Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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