Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (Farm to School)
Santa Monica, California
The SMMUSD Farmers' Market Salad Bar was the first of its kind in the Los Angeles area. The program began in 1997 at one elementary school and within 4 years had expanded to include all 14 schools in the district. The produce is purchased directly from farmers at the local farmers' markets and prepared on school grounds by a site coordinator. Every day students are given a choice of a hot meal or the salad bar for their lunch. The success and popularity has been remarkable with as much as a seven-fold increase in salad bar consumption at some school sites.
Major funding for this program came from a Department of Health Services Nutrition Network grant, and donations from the PTA. After five years in operation the Farmers' Market Salad Bar is able to operate without grant funding, the only exception being the nutrition education which requires additional money. The district spends a total of approximately $100,000 a year on produce from the farmers' market and is able to buy the produce at prices comparable to wholesale prices. The produce is delivered twice weekly in a truck owned by the district and prepared daily by the salad bar coordinator and one to three parent volunteers who are needed each day to assist.
Other program components include school gardens on each campus, nutrition education, trips to the farmers' market, and a cooking cart brought to classrooms. The district has also passed a Nutrition and Physical Activity Policy designed to teach lifelong healthy eating and activity habits to students.
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