Strawberries in salad bar

Partnership Looks to Increase Fresh, Healthy Choices in Michigan Schools

FLINT, Mich., May 31, 2018 –  For students in select schools across Michigan this year, their lunch got an upgrade. Fresh fruit and vegetable lunch options are more readily available and presented in an appealing, eye-catching manner, thanks to a collaboration between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and United Fresh Start Foundation to provide salad bars to schools.

The salad bars are part of the national Salad Bars to Schools initiative, which provides salad bar equipment to schools, as a strategy to increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption.  As part of the BCBSM-United Fresh collaboration, the 20 salad bars have been donated to schools across Michigan this year, are already benefiting over 6,000 students by improving school meals, empowering kids to choose healthy fruits and vegetables, and nudging them toward the adoption of healthy habits.

“BCBSM is proud to support efforts to ‘make the healthy choice the easy choice,’” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “The salad bars will help students have easy and fun access to fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Research and experience in schools across the country demonstrate that children significantly increase their fruit and vegetable consumption when given a variety of choices in a school salad bar. In fact, research conducted by Pew Charitable Trusts has found that school salad bars are the most effective school-based intervention to increase students’ fruit and vegetable consumption.Salad Bar Ribbon Cutting

Salad bars empower students to make their own healthy choices and create excitement about trying new fruits and vegetables.  Salad bars also help schools comply with the National School Lunch Program’s nutrition standards, which require offering a colorful variety of vegetable options each week.

“Kids like fresh fruits and vegetables. When provided access to a variety of produce options in a school salad bar, they respond by picking the items they like best, and potentially trying something new,” said Andrew Marshall, director of foundation programs and partnerships for the United Fresh Start Foundation.  “Salad bars are also a visual representation of a school’s commitment to wellness and healthy school meals.  Having a salad bar shows parents, teachers, and the community that the school values a healthy environment that encourages children to eat more fruits and vegetables,” added Marshall.

Michigan schools receiving salad bars from the 2017-18 collaboration include:

  • Northern High School, Ada
  • Eastern High/Middle School, Ada
  • Central High School, Ada
  • Collins Elementary School, Ada
  • Au Gres-Sims Elementary School, Au Gres
  • Kaleva Norman Dickson Middle-High School, Brethren
  • Carson City-Crystal Lower Elementary School, Carson City
  • Carson City-Crystal Middle/High School, Carson City
  • Munger Elementary School, Detroit
  • Mackenzie Elementary/Middle School, Detroit
  • Robinson Elementary School, Grand Haven
  • Griffin Elementary School, Grand Haven
  • Father Marquette Middle School, Marquette
  • Romeo Middle School, Romeo
  • Romeo High School, Romeo
  • Bear Lake School, Brethren
  • Michigan School for the Deaf, Flint
  • Kennedy Middle School, St. Clair Shores
  • Elms Road Elementary School, Swartz Creek

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is dedicated to helping schools establish environments that support health. Since 2009, our Building Healthy Communities program has helped more than 270,000 students in more than 600 schools learn to make healthier choices and be more physically active.

The United Fresh Start Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization focused exclusively on increasing children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables.  Affiliated with the United Fresh Produce Association, a leading trade association for the fresh fruit and vegetable industry, the Foundation is committed to helping today’s kids achieve the public health goal to make half their plate fruits and vegetables in order to live longer and healthier lives.  The Foundation works to create an environment in which kids have easy access to high-quality, great-tasting and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, whenever and wherever they are choosing snacks or a meal.  The United Fresh Start Foundation is also founding partner of the national Salad Bars to Schools initiative. More information is available at: http://www.unitedfreshstart.org/.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.6 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies who reside outside the state. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com and MIBluesPerspectives.com.

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