Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough elementary schools to test salad bars

Until now, salad bars were only available in Hillsborough County high schools, like this one at Freedom High. But the district will soon try out the concept in elementary schools, starting with Valrico. The school’s principal says the response has been positive.


Until now, salad bars were only available in Hillsborough County high schools, like this one at Freedom High. But the district will soon try out the concept in elementary schools, starting with Valrico. The school’s principal says the response has been positive.

The Hillsborough School District takes the first step to providing healthier lunches for elementary school kids Monday when it initiates a pilot program at Valrico Elementary.

The district's GreenHouse Salad Bar program, fully launched in high schools this fall, is proving so popular among students that the district now wants to introduce the concept in elementary schools. Ginain Grayes, marketing and communications director for student nutrition services, said Valrico will be the first of several elementary schools to test the program.

"Elementary needs are different than middle and high school," Grayes said in explaining why the district will use a pilot program. "We're taking the next few months to have it down to an art."

The salad bar offers students a list of choices, including items such as turkey, chicken, eggs, carrots, cucumbers, Craisins, crispy Chinese noodles and southwest tortilla strips. Students check off up to five items that are placed on a spring mix bed of lettuce and spinach, for $2.25.

Grayes said part of the salad bar's popularity stems from the fact kids get to make their own choices. They may sniff at a pre-made salad, but be enthused about a salad they "created."

The question now becomes can elementary kids create salads and check off five items in a quick and orderly fashion. Picky eaters and fickle decision makers may slow the process, so that's one of the reasons the school will do a trial run starting at Valrico and then expanding to a few other elementary schools across the county.

"We have to determine how will kids come up to the serving line, how is it going to be presented," Grayes said. "We have so many schools with so many different layouts and structures in the cafeteria. We have to create a few templates, for lack of a better term, and tailor it to make it as easy and seamless as we can for our customers."

In an effort to ensure expediency, Grayes said one possibility may involve having the elementary kids fill out the list earlier in the morning before they reach the cafeteria.

What doesn't seem to be in question is the enthusiasm for the salads. Valrico principal Anthony Montoto said students and parents have expressed excitement.

"We have promoted the salad bar on our marquee, and the response has been quite positive," Montoto said. "One of the newer focuses is childhood obesity so now we have another option for kids to be healthy. They're excited and our faculty is excited too. It's another option for our teachers and staff."

The emphasis on healthier options is partly a result of new federal school meal guidelines aimed at curbing obesity, but Grayes said the Hillsborough district already had standards in place to meet the guidelines and hasn't needed to make a big adjustment.

Ernest Hooper can be reached at

Hillsborough elementary schools to test salad bars 12/08/12 [Last modified: Saturday, December 8, 2012 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday


    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  2. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start


    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  3. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy


    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  5. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)


    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102