HOUSTON — They say everything is bigger in Texas and the Houston Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association decided to step up and deliver.

The association hosted a charity golf tournament May 11, intending to use the proceeds to donate three salad bars to the Houston Independent School District through the United Fresh Produce Association’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools Initiative.

Association president Dave Anderson said the association instead decided to start a multi-year campaign to donate a total of 20 salad bars to the school.

Brian Giles, senior food services administrator for the school district, said the salad bars will be used as a pilot program.

Giles said 82% of the district’s 200,000 students can be classified as economically disadvantaged.

“For a lot of these kids, the neighborhood store is the corner gas station,” he said. “You typically don’t see a lot of fruits and vegetables there.”

Exposing children to fruits and vegetables early, as the district will do with these salad bars in three of its elementary schools, is essential, Giles said.

“We have an uphill battle teaching these kids to not be afraid of fresh produce,” he said.

Giles said the district works to introduce a variety of fruits and vegetables to students. So-called exotic vegetables like acorn squash and bok choy were part of a program earlier this year.

“The reaction was mixed,” he said. “A lot of it was thrown in the trash, but with education, some kids really took to it and liked it.”

The association plans to host another golf tournament next year as part of its community outreach efforts.

Houston group pledges donation of 20 salad bars for schools

Pamela Riemenschneider

Houston Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association Charity Golf Tournament organizers Ed Bertaud, (left) and Craig Slate, (right), of IFCO Systems, along with Dave Anderson, HFFVA president, present the Houston Independent School District with three salad bars on May 11. The HFFVA pledged a total of 20 salad bars through the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative.