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Since 2014, Tour de Fresh, a four-day cycling event presented by the California Giant Foundation, has donated more than 230 salad bars across the nation to help increase children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables.

This year, Tour de Fresh expects to provide at least 50 salad bars to schools in California, Georgia, Ohio, Texas and Michigan, benefiting more than 25,000 students.

With rising demand for healthier options during lunchtime along with a nationwide trend in overall wellness, the need for salad bars in schools has continued to climb over the past six years.

As of June 2019, Salad Bars to Schools has received 304 requests for salad bars from schools across the U.S, which would grant more than 150,000 students access to fresh produce.

Cindy Jewell

“We believe providing access to a variety of fruits and vegetables offer an experience of choices that can shape behavior far beyond the school lunch line,” said Vice President of Marketing at California Giant Berry Farms Cindy Jewell. “A donation of a salad bar provides a platform to encourage a lifetime of healthy snacks and meals to children who may not have fresher options in their home.”

In its sixth year, the Tour de Fresh will benefit a variety of school districts that have been waiting for over a year to obtain salad bars for their schools.

The 2019 school districts receiving salad bars are:

  • Rosedale Union School District – Bakersfield, Calif.
  • Acalanes Union High School District – Moraga, Calif.
  • Mt. Shasta Union School District – Mt. Shasta, Calif.
  • Ramona Unified School District – Ramona, Calif.
  • South Whittier School District – Whittier, Calif.
  • Barrow County Schools – Winder, Ga.
  • Wadsworth City Schools – Wadsworth, Ohio
  • Fort Worth ISD – Forth Worth, Texas
  • Michigan School District

Of the nine school districts across the nation benefiting from this year’s Tour de Fresh, there are more than 50 schools in Michigan alone, the most of any state, requesting salad bars from the national Salad Bars to Schools initiative, with more schools interested in using salad bars to empower students to choose healthier options.

Acalanes Union High School District in Moraga, Calif., is committed and ready to move forward with implementing more salad bars in schools across their district.

More than a year ago, the district decided to purchase one salad bar to pilot a health intervention. Delighted with the excellent feedback from students, teachers and parents, the foodservice staff applied for more salad bars.

The district has since implemented a student-leadership group that’s passionate about healthy eating and encourages fellow students to make food choices that benefit their health and the planet and looks forward to utilizing more salad bars within their facilities soon.

Raising the salad bar

With an active Farm to School program within their district, the Barrow County Schools of Winder, Ga., is looking forward to expanding their salad bar program this year – with only one salad bar currently incorporated. This Georgia school district works closely with the Wimberly Center, a non-profit where chefs teach cafeteria staff how to prepare and present fresh produce for their school meals.

Both research and experiences like the above suggest the effectiveness of having a salad bar in school cafeterias.

According to a dietician overseeing nine schools in the Rosedale Union School District, consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables are up 20% since salad bars were introduced last year.

Generating sales

United Fresh estimates that $1.3 million fresh produce sales have been generated in the last five years to stock the 230 salad bars Tour de Fresh has provided.

“The opportunity for the fresh produce industry to make generational impact is huge,” Jewell said. “We are not just about the ride every year, we are focused on raising awareness of the salad bar program and helping children have access to fresher options.  Each of us as riders, sponsors, supporters and volunteers hope to have a role in shaping future shopper preferences and impacting sales within the industry right now.”

The United Fresh Start Foundation provided Tour de Fresh organizers a list of those schools with the greatest need in hopes of the riders making kids school lunch dreams come true again this year.

The Foundation estimates that an average of 500 children per school will benefit every day from just one salad bar.

Thanks to the generosity and support of Tour de Fresh riders, sponsors, friends and family, the Tour de Fresh movement has impacted at least 120,000 children since 2014. Learn more about the 2019 school district salad bar recipients here.

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