If Carrots Could TalkIt is not every day that you get to leave the grind of work, and spend the afternoon with an amazing group of 4th through 6th graders to learn about how food is grown, taste test baby carrots, and then inaugurate a salad bar that will enable students to have access to more fruits and vegetables.
In early May, several Bayer colleagues in conjunction with Grimmway Farms and the United Fresh Foundation donated four salad bars to the Rosedale Union School District in Bakersfield, CA. The United Fresh Foundation has been at the forefront of getting more kids access to fruits and vegetables, and salad bars in schools are just one example. For some people, they may assume that all schools have equal access to fruits and vegetables, and that the tools and equipment to deliver those fresh fruits and vegetables are in place. But not all schools have that luxury, and it is programs like Salad Bars to Schools that make that a reality.
The United Fresh Foundation works with the produce industry, non-profits and allied businesses to support salad bars to schools across the United States. To-date, Salad Bars to Schools has helped facilitate the donation of salad bars to more than 5,500 schools, benefiting 3 million children in all 50 states. Wow! At Bayer, our salad bar investment supported this national initiative, allowing 4 more salad bars in the Bakersfield area in 2019. Check out our work in 2018.
Food Stakeholder Manager, North America
One part of getting kids to eat more fruits and vegetables is access, which is where the physical salad bar comes into play. But it is more than that. At the salad bar launch, we talked about tools that growers use in the production of their crops in dealing with weeds, insects, weather conditions and different soil types. In fact, the exact location of the salad bar launch is one of the largest carrot growing areas in the world! We were lucky to have Zach Wortiska from Grimmway Farms explain to the kids about how carrots are grown, look at the seeds and get a better understanding of the path of carrots from farm to salad bar. Then came the fun part. Bayer’s Seminis seeds division develops technology to create amazing tasting and colorful carrots that are a kid favorite. After the formal launch, the kids got to taste test four different colored carrots (purple, orange, white and yellow). The yellow carrot became the fan favorite, and beat out the traditional baby orange carrot variety.
After the event, the students moved through the lunch line and salad bar (the Patriot Elementary salad bar was donated by the Kern County Chapter of California Women in Ag) and fill up their plates. Many of the students skipped the historical menu items for plates full of carrots, salad, tomatoes and grapes. Sure there was some ranch dressing involved, but I was happily surprised to see lunch trays full of colorful fruits and veggies - that were actually eaten.
For more information on the Salad Bars to School program, or Bayer’s participation, click here.