Education

Ryan Co-Sponsors Bill to Boost Salad Bars in Schools

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, joined Wednesday by fellow U.S. Reps. Sam Farr and Frederica S. Wilson, introduced the Salad Bars in Schools Expansion Act.

The legislation, which can be read here, establishes a new program to provide training, technical assistance and placement of salad bars in elementary, middle and high schools across the country

“Currently, one-third of the children in the United States are overweight or obese, putting them at risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases. As a parent, I understand the importance of teaching our children how to eat healthier, and it is our responsibility to help reverse this dangerous trend. Salad bars have proven to be an effective and affordable way to make school lunch more nutritious,” Ryan, D-13 Ohio, said.

More than 30 million children eat school meals each day and opponents of current school nutrition standards are trying to repeal the requirement that school meals contain at least ½ cup of fruits and vegetables, according to a news release from Ryan’s office.

Research shows that the current standard increases consumption of fruits and vegetables and decreases food waste, Ryan said. In addition, salad bars have been recognized as a highly successful, cost-effective strategy to help schools comply with federal regulations.

“Healthy options in the lunchroom fuel success in the classroom. There is no better way to ensure that success than through the Salad Bars in Schools program which has a provided more students with access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Investing in our children’s future starts with expanding this great program to even more schools,” Farr, D-20 Calif., said.

“As a lifelong educator and longtime school principal, I know that salad bars are an innovative way for children to get the healthy, nutrient-rich foods they need to learn and grow. In all my time as a school principal, I have never seen my students more excited about lunch than when we brought in a salad bar. I am excited to be working with Congressman Ryan and Congressman Farr to introduce the Salad Bars in Schools Expansion Act and ensuring it is included in the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act,” Wilson, D-24 Fla., added.

The legislation has been endorsed by the United Fresh Produce Association, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the American Heart Association, The Ohio State University, Ohio Produce Growers and Marketing Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Real Food for Kids, U.S. Apple Association, National Potato Council, National Watermelon Association, the Western Growers, California Fresh Fruit Association, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, New York Apple Association, Texas Citrus Mutual, Texas International Produce Association, and the Texas Vegetable Association.

“This bill will enhance students access to fresh fruits and vegetables at school lunch and help to transform school food environments. Salad bars are an effective strategy to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, introduce kids to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and one of the easiest ways for schools to successfully implement healthier school lunch standards,” said Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of United Fresh Produce Association.

“Instead of lining up our kids for pepperoni pizza, let’s make sure salad bars encourage them to choose fruits, vegetables, and beans every day,” said Colin Schwartz, director of government affairs, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.