2012-08-24 / Top Stories

Bloomberg Sets School Salad Bars

Get your lettuce and carrots right here!

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas A. Farley, Food Policy Coordinator Kim Kessler and Community Affairs Commissioner Nazli Parvizi joined Whole Foods Market and their Whole Kids Foundation by donating 57 salad bars, valued at more than $300,000, to New York City public elementary schools throughout the five boroughs.

The Department of Education, with the support of the Mayor’s Fund and Fund for Public Schools, has already installed more than 1,000 salad bars in City schools through the NYC School Salad Bar Initiative.

As part of the Mayor’s Task Force on Obesity, the City will finish installing salad bars in all public schools city-wide by 2015 to ensure that New York City school children have access to fresh vegetables on a daily basis. Increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables help children develop food preferences and the new salad bars will give thousands of children exposure to fresh produce, helping them learn to make healthy choices for life. The Mayor was joined by Whole Foods Market Regional Presi- dent Christina Minardi, Whole Kids Foundation Executive Director Nona Evans, Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, Executive Director of the Educational Construction Fund Jamie Smarr, State Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Dan Quart and City Council Member Dan Gardnick, which took place at the new Whole Foods location, part of a new Department of Education complex that includes three new, state-of-the-art public schools.

“Thanks to our pioneering initiatives, New York City has recently defied the national trend and seen an unprecedented decline in childhood obesity,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Giving every student access to healthy fruit and vegetables is the next step in countering the obesity epidemic and getting kids started on a healthy habit for life. Kids love salad bars in schools – I keep hearing that they are often the first choice for lunch – and this donation from Whole Foods will help bring this delicious and healthy option to more kids.”

“The City made strides in reducing childhood obesity but more work remains to be done,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. “The City’s Obesity Task Force’s commitment to increasing kids’ access to healthy food and introducing healthy behaviors is helped today by the donation of salad bars. Even more students – and younger ones – can now look forward to enjoying fruits and vegetables every day at lunch.”

“Reversing the obesity epidemic requires actions by individuals, corporations, and government, working together,” said Health Commissioner Farley. “Whole Foods is playing a part by donating salad bars for our kids, which is just the kind of action we need. Improving childhood nutrition and offering more ways for kids to be physically active in schools are both critically important in reducing obesity among school-aged children.”

In December 2011, the City achieved a significant victory in the battle against obesity when, after years of effort to improve nutrition and expand physical activity opportunities for New Yorkers, New York City experienced a statistically significant drop in rates of childhood obesity. Contrary to national trends, rates of obesity for New York City kindergartners through eighth graders decreased 5.5 percent from 2006 to 2011.

Despite this good news, two out of every five New York City elementary school children remain overweight or obese and the health consequences are dire, ranging from hypertension to high cholesterol to Type II diabetes. Obese children and adolescents also are more likely to become obese adults.

As part of the Mayor’s Obesity Task Force, the City is committed to expanding the salad bars already installed in roughly three-fourths of the City’s 1,200 school buildings to all of the public schools by 2015. The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City partnered with the Department of Education to help provide lower-height, accessible salad bar units in targeted elementary schools throughout the city. Today’s Whole Foods Donation of 57 salad bars specifically for elementary schools is through Whole Kids Foundation™, a Whole Foods Market foundation dedicated to improving childhood nutrition through increased access to healthy foods. Past private donors to the Salad Bar Initiative include Agnes Gund and the Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation. The City’s recent budget adoption includes funding to provide salad bars for all schools that can support one.

In addition to expanding the availability of salad bars, the City is ramping up the installation of water jets, which make cold, fresh tap water easily available to students in schools. Water jets are currently in more than 350 city school cafeterias and the City is aiming to add an additional 700 new water jets in schools to reach the vast majority of City students. Because behaviors are established at an early age – and considering that approximately one-third of added sugar in our diet comes from carbonated beverages – encouraging children to drink water can play an important role in addressing childhood obesity.

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