OKLAHOMA CITY--(BUSINESS WIRE)--What is the main obstacle to getting kids to eat healthier? Research suggests that it might be simply a lack of healthy options.
As part of an initiative committed to increasing healthier options for students, Dole Food Company and local grocery retailer Homeland Stores have partnered to donate salad bars to two public schools in Oklahoma City. Working with the district’s nutrition services department, these self-serve produce bars are the first to be implemented by the district, and will feature a wide array of fresh fruits and vegetables to boost nutritious choices for students at breakfast and lunch.
“Since one in three children, ages 9 to 11, is at risk or already overweight, we need to look at new ways to encourage healthier eating,” said Bil Goldfield, Dole’s director of corporate communications. “Our mission at Dole is to start the nutrition conversation early in childhood, and promote fresh fruit and vegetables as healthy food options. By providing salad bars that will enable schools to offer a variety of produce choices each day, we are hopefully establishing healthier eating habits that will last a lifetime.”
The two schools receiving the new salad bars include:
- Hawthorne Elementary School (Oklahoma City)
- Classen School of Advanced Studies (Oklahoma City)
Representatives from Dole, Homeland Stores and the United Fresh Start Foundation presented Hawthorne Elementary School in Oklahoma City today with a new salad bar at a dedication ceremony.
“Healthy eating options are key for a healthy lifestyle, and that’s a high priority for us when it comes to feeding our kids,” said Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Aurora Lora. “I am very appreciative of our community partners for bringing these salad bars into our schools, supporting all the great work that our School Nutrition Services Department is doing to provide fresh, and great tasting food choices for our students.”
“Homeland is thrilled to partner with Dole and the Oklahoma City Public School District to provide two salad bars to support healthy eating habits for the students of Oklahoma,” said Homeland Store’s CEO Marc Jones. “Supporting healthy communities is a core value at Homeland and we are proud of our over 100-year history in the state of Oklahoma. The earlier our children are given healthy food choices, such as fresh fruits and vegetables at school lunch, the earlier they will form healthy habits and develop the strength of body and mind necessary to take on the challenges of education and leading us in the future. As an employee-owned company, our employee owners live in the communities that we serve and see these two salad bars as one more step towards creating a healthier and stronger Oklahoma for all of us!”
The salad bars were arranged through a partnership with the United Fresh Start Foundation to support Salad Bars to Schools, a program which has donated salad bars to 5,000 schools over the last six years and is benefiting 3 million children with increased access to fresh produce. The United Fresh Start Foundation works with the produce industry, foundations and allied businesses to support salad bars for schools nationwide, promoting salad bars as the most effective strategy for increasing children’s produce consumption at school.
“We are pleased to assist the largest school district in Oklahoma to begin implementing salad bars. Kids like fresh fruits and vegetables and when given the opportunity to make their own choices from a school salad bar, they will select and eat more fresh produce,” said Tom Stenzel, President and CEO, United Fresh Produce Association. “Salad bars are a visual representation of healthy school meals, and this much-needed equipment is often a ‘conversation starter’ amongst students, school administrators and parents about the importance of eating more fresh fruits and vegetables for better health.”
Salad bars are scheduled to be expanded to additional schools in the district later this year, as well.
Current USDA nutrition standards for school lunch include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables each week, and salad bars provide an easy way for schools to serve these options. Research and experience in schools across the country demonstrate that children significantly increase their fruit and vegetable consumption when given a variety of choices in a school salad bar. When offered multiple fruit and vegetable choices, children respond by incorporating greater variety and increasing their overall consumption.
Nationwide, salad bars are changing school food environments and helping students make the healthy choice, the easy choice.
About Dole Food Company, Inc.
Dole Food Company, Inc., is one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of high-quality fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. Dole is an industry leader in many of the products it sells, as well as in nutrition education and research. For more information, please visit www.dole.com.
About Homeland Stores
HAC, Inc. is a supermarket chain in the United States. Their headquarters is in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. HAC operates under several banners including Homeland, United Supermarkets, Country Mart in Lawton, Oklahoma, Cash Saver Cost +, Piggly Wiggly, Food World, Beachler’s IGA, and Super Save Stores in Texas. As of 2017, the employee owned regional supermarket chain operates 78 supermarkets in five states; Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. For more information, please visit http://www.homelandstores.com/.
About The 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, the Foundation is committed to helping today’s kid’s 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. More information at: www.unitedfreshstart.org.
About Oklahoma City Public Schools
Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) is a multi-cultural district serving approximately 46,000 students. OKCPS students are educated throughout 54 neighborhood elementary schools, 16 secondary schools, 2 special centers and 15 charter schools located in a 135.5 square miles in the center of Oklahoma. More information at: http://www.okcps.org/.