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Salad Bars are Coming Back to Schools

New CDC Guidance for Salad Bars!

The year has been challenging on many fronts, for countless people globally. We have been challenged with the loss of loved ones, health issues, isolation, remote schooling, unemployment, racial injustices and many other difficulties. School food teams have pivoted to remote feeding and worked to ensure that children in their communities have access to school meals they have come to rely on.

Before the pandemic and over the last decade, salad bars have become a proven tool for school food service teams to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables during lunch. Districts struggled over the last year to ensure their remote feeding programs distributed adequate amounts of fresh produce.

We were excited by recent guidance from the CDC (below) on how to reopen salad bars safely next school year —

Guidance for What School Nutrition Professionals and Volunteers at Schools Need to Know about COVID-19 | CDC

If traditional self-serve stations such as hot and cold food bars, salad or condiment bars are offered:

  • Require students and staff to wear a mask over the nose and mouth when waiting in line and when serving themselves food.
  • Provide handwashing stations or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and encourage use before use of self-service station.
  • Encourage students and staff to remain at least 6 feet apart while waiting in line by providing physical guidance and visual cues, such as tape or graphics on floors or sidewalks and signs on walls.
  • If shared objects (e.g., utensils, tongs) are used, continue to replace them according to food safety code.
  • Ensure that used or dirty non-disposable food service items are handled with gloves and washed, rinsed, and sanitized to meet food safety requirements. Employees and volunteers should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after removing their gloves or after handling used or dirty food service items.
  • Protect unpackaged food items from contamination by providing barriers, such as sneeze shields.

As the number of Covid cases drops and more people get vaccinated, we are excited to move back to more regular food service in schools. It is inspiring to hear that so many districts plan to reopen their salad bars next school year. Since 2010, Salad Bars to Schools has granted nearly 6000 salad bars, reaching nearly 3 million children across the country. Next year will be very special for this initiative as the first salad bars we granted created access for kindergarteners who will be high school seniors in 2021/22. We are proud that Salad Bars to Schools can celebrate supporting access to salad bars for children through their entire K-12 experience.

Many districts have waited patiently after submitting their application to Salad Bars to Schools. With the latest CDC guidance, we have begun to review applications and will be reaching out to confirm districts’ existing needs for salad bars with the intention to grant new bars in the Fall of 2021.

We are excited to announce that applicants for a Salad Bars to Schools grant will now receive a free salad bar operations course through the Chef Ann Foundation’s School Food Institute. We have captured years of best practices from districts that have implemented salad bars in one virtual personal learning course. We will continue to share updated guidelines and additional resources to ensure districts are able to run a successful salad bar program.

Cheers to school year 2021/2022, we are looking forward to even more healthy and fresh meals in schools!


Mara Fleishman, CEO, Chef Ann Foundation
Nona Evans, Executive Director, Whole Kids Foundation

*The Chef Ann Foundation & Whole Kids Foundation are proud partners of The Salad Bars to School program. To learn more about the program, click here.


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