Healthy School Food Maryland
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Salad Bar Summit

April 25, 2016
Healthy School Food Maryland's Salad Bar Summit was a huge Rodney Taylor success with over 70 attendees, including parents, teachers, farmers and students from 5 Maryland counties and the Director of Food and Nutrition Services for the Montgomery County Public Schools, Marla Caplon.

The keynote speaker, Rodney Taylor, gave a moving talk that both inspired and educated on how to start salad bars in elementary schools. Having worked in small and medium school districts, Taylor, who is now Director of Food and Nutrition Services in Fairfax County, Virginia, is now excited to try his plan in the 10th largest school district in the country.

Katy from Frederick County In his talk, Taylor emphasized his outrage at the projections for the occurrence of diabetes in the current generation (1 in three children and 2 in 3 Black and Latino children will get it), emphasizing that those are his grandchildren and that food service directors should feed children as if they were their own. He also pointed out the hypocrisy of the emphasis on making sure all children are fed properly during testing week but the apathy towards feeding them properly the rest of the time.

Of Taylor's suggestions for implementing salad bars successfully, based on his work in the Riverside Unified School District in California, the most important were that the produce coming from Farmers' Markets would be fresher, tastier and more appealing to the eye than traditional options, and the need to stock the salad bar in a way that is visually appealing, including cut up fruits and variety. Little discussion and few questions arose about one of the most common concerns with salad bars, hygiene, as the simple salad bar etiquette sheet provided by Taylor and the staffing by adults of the bar effectively addressed those problems. Other recommendations by Taylor were to provide a display plate of salad to demonstrate how to make a healthy salad with a variety of items and to place the salad bar in the cafeteria, rather than in the serving line.

Regarding costs, grants provided some of the funding for the equipment that Taylor used in previous districts, but day-to-day costs were not greater than with other options, as the smaller portions taken by younger students balanced out the larger portions taken by older students. In elementary schools, salads were sold as part of the set price, free or reduced-priced meals, at times served with proteins and carbohydrates as a full meal and other times as a side salad. But in high schools, presumably due to greater consumption, salads were sold by weight and ultimately were not successful for him (although Fairfax has one functional salad bar, which he is watching). As a result, in Riverside, Taylor had a chef design a line of Panera-style sandwiches and salads to sell to high school students, which he called Fresh Express. Before launching salad bars, Taylor made sure to get the support of his Superintendent in case he did run a deficit.

Full notes and Taylor's Power Point Presentation from the Salad Bar Summit are available on the Healthy School Food Maryland web site.

See pre-coverage of the event in Bethesda Magazine:
Advocates for Healthier Food in Schools to Gather for First 'Salad Bar Summit' in Rockville


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