Make us your home page
Instagram

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.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

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 hooper@tampabay.com.

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

Loading...
  1. Pinellas sees spike in infant deaths from unsafe sleeping, and advocates are concerned

    Health

    The reports from the Department of Children and Families are tragic: A Pinellas County mother falls asleep on a recliner during an early morning feeding and wakes to find one of her 3-month-old twins unresponsive. Another finds her 6-month-old daughter lying still, a blanket over her head. Another infant is found wedged …

    Advocates are looking to step up their public information efforts this year after reports show a spike in sleep-related infant deaths in Pinellas County. [iStockphoto.com]
  2. Kellyanne Conway warns of health care spin, but then delivers her own in Miami

    Blogs

    On the same day that Senate Republicans were forced to delay a vote on their healthcare legislation because not enough of them wanted to vote for it, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway defended the bill in Miami.

    White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway is welcomed by state Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-District 105, at the Miami-Dade GOP’s Lincoln Day fundraiser on Tuesday night.
  3. Sign up for our new daily News at Noon email newsletter

    News

    The Tampa Bay Times will soon launch a daily newsletter called News at Noon. You can make sure to be among the first to receive it by signing up now.

  4. New poll shows tight St. Pete mayor's race

    Blogs

    A new poll shows a tight race between former mayor Rick Baker and Mayor Rick Kriseman, currently engaged in the most expensive mayoral race in St. Petersburg history. 

    Former Mayor Rick Baker answers a question during the mayoral candidate forum at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church on Tuesday. Mayor Rick Kriseman is in the foreground.
  5. Review: Mark Bowden's 'Hue 1968' a gripping, and timely, history

    Books

    More than 40 years after it ended, America's war in Vietnam is still contentious, still misunderstood, and fast slipping into the fog of history.

     On Feb. 15, 1968, U.S. Marines carry out an assault on Dong Ba Tower in Hue, South Vietnam. In the battle for the tower, six men died and 50 were wounded.