SALINAS, Calif. — Dozens of elementary school kids lined up patiently on a sunny morning at Jesse G. Sanchez Elementary School waiting for a snack.

School salad bars would get boost with bill

Dawn Withers

U.S. Rep. Sam Farr and Sen. Debbie Stabenow talk to kids at Jesse G. Sanchez Elementary School in Salinas about the benefits of eating produce.

It wasn’t sweet things like cookies and candy they were waiting for but fresh fruits and vegetables — sliced oranges, broccoli and cherry tomatoes and peeled baby carrots.
Watching them nearby were Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., who visited the school Aug. 26 with United Fresh Produce Association representatives. The visit was to highlight a bill Farr plans to sponsor, promoting salad bars in the nation’s schools as a way to get more kids to produce.
A healthier America “starts in schools and funding programs in the schools,” Farr said.
Farr is working on the bill, expected in September, called the Children’s Fruit and Vegetable Act, requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture to promote salad bars in schools nationwide.
The fresh fruits and vegetables available to Jesse G. Sanchez Elementary students should be in all schools, Farr said. The bill would help do that by educating schools about salad bars and make it easier to schools to get federal money.
The elementary school is one of the first in California to receive money from the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, enacted in 2008 through the farm bill. The program expands a pilot program nationally, establishing fresh produce snacks in schools. The farm bill provides $37,000 annually for fresh fruit and vegetable snacks to Jesse Sanchez Elementary.
Stabenow, who serves on the Senate Nutrition and Forestry Committee, said she supports Farr’s proposal and plans to review it in the committee, incorporating it into the Child Nutrition Act, which comes up for renewal at the end of September.