First Lady Michelle Obama was expected to announce a new initiative on November 22 in Miami to place up to 5,000 salad bars in public schools nationwide, though some school food experts question how compatible some of them might be with local health ordinances, reports the Grist magazine. The First Lady was visiting Florida to promote her Let's Move campaign to fight childhood obesity.
Among the supporters of the new initiative are White House Chef Sam Kass and Ann Cooper, director of nutrition services for the Boulder, CO, school district, who has been a longtime advocate of more healthful meals in schools. They are partnering with the U.S. Centers for Disease & Prevention and the U.S. produce industry to build a coalition to raise $1.4 million to establish a grant program that would fund the salad bar program.
Health professionals are concerned that smaller children are too short for standard sneeze guards, and that younger children may be more prone to using their hands rather than tongs or other implements to serve themselves, spreading germs in the process.
Further, some school foodservice directors worry that USDA rules that require students to pass by a checkpoint to determine that they have taken sufficient quantities of different meal components to qualify for federal reimbursement pose too much of a logistical obstacle in a crowded school lunch period environment.