Bloomberg Eyes Salad Bars For Schools
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has joined Whole Foods Market and their Whole Kids Foundation as they celebrated the opening of their new East 57th Street store located at 226 East 57th Street 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 President 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 Garodnick, which took place at the new Whole Foods location, part of a new Department of Education complex that includes three new, stateof 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.”
“We provide students with healthy and delicious school meals that are low in fat, sodium and calories and thanks to Whole Foods we can add to our inventory of salad bars,” Chancellor Walcott said. “Currently, we have more than 1,000 salad bars in our schools and the new donation will ensure that more students will have more options. We have been at the forefront of providing healthy meals. Since 2004, we have replaced whole milk with low-fat milk, white bread with whole wheat and this year we are introducing organic yogurt.”
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 lowerheight, 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.
Through the Obesity Task Force, the City also expanded its support for schools gardens as well as its School Wellness Council Grant program, which allocate mini-grants to schools to create wellness policies and provides technical assistance. To learn more about the Citywide School Gardens Initiative, which was founded by GrowNYC and the Mayor’s Fund, contact the Mayor’s Fund at www.nyc.gov.