Mobile salad bar program promotes healthy food in local elementary schools

Students at Robert Lunt Elementary School in Las Vegas can’t wait for lunch on November 15.

It’s not pizza day.

Nachos aren’t on the menu either.

And there aren’t any special celebrity guests making a surprise visit.

It’s salad that the students are excited about.

Once a month, one of Clark County School District’s (CCSD) mobile salad bars makes its way to Lunt’s lunchroom stocked with fresh produce and salad toppings.

“The kids absolutely love it,” said Lisa Drakulich, Lunt’s principal. “They truly look forward to it every month.”

The mobile salad bar program was introduced at CCSD in the mid-1990s, according to CCSD Food Service staff, to increase access to fresh food for children. Over the decades, the program received varying levels of participation from local schools.

But prior to the school year, in an effort to boost participation, CCSD partnered with the Southern Nevada Health District’s (SNHD) Office of Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion to better promote the program throughout the community.

The collaboration paid off.

This school year, 64 elementary schools are expected to participate, more than four times the number that participated last school year. Additionally, approximately a dozen schools have requested the salad bar on a monthly basis.

“Our goal this year was to make fresh produce more accessible to students and expanding salad bar participation has really helped with that,” said Christina Saheb, a CCSD food service coordinator. “It’s really exciting to expose kids to fruits and vegetables that some may have never tried before.”

While Food Service and SNHD are excited by the uptick, they’re eager to get more schools to participate. Staff are continuously promoting the program and educating administrators and teachers on how to successfully implement it.

“Lunt is a great example,” said Saheb. “They do a great job of prioritizing healthy eating and working wellness and nutrition into the classroom experience.

In addition to the salad bar, students at Lunt are exposed to healthy habits through their school garden, monthly Wellness Days, a fruits and veggies program, and running and walking clubs.

Increasing access to healthy food options, promoting wellness programs, and working to reduce childhood obesity are priorities in the SNS regional plan.

CCSD Food Service is exploring options for including permanent salad bars in elementary schools. Nearly all middle and high schools in the district have permanent salad bars in their lunchrooms, but because most elementary schools don’t have designated cafeterias – lunch is generally served in a room used for multiple purposes – installing a permanent salad bar is tricky.

CCSD’s 18 mobile salad bars were purchased with federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

For elementary schools, mobile salad bars are available on a rotating basis by request. Learn how to request a salad bar for your child’s elementary school here.

The rotating salad bar is just one of the resources, programs, and initiatives undertaken to promote and implement CCSD’s Wellness Policy. Learn more about school wellness by visiting SNHD’s Healthy School Environment webpage.