There's no question the support of first lady Michelle Obama gives a needed boost to the salad bars in schools program.

The new campaign, Let’s Move Salad Bars to School, succeeds United Fresh Foundation’s A Salad Bar in Every School campaign. Even more produce and nutrition groups are involved in Obama’s stated goal of placing 6,000 salad bars in schools in the next three years.

But the real success will be seen years from now.

If government and industry can get school kids to eat more fresh produce in school and at home as a result of salad bars in their schools, and if that causes a noticeable increase in consumption, the program is a success.

Awareness and warm and fuzzy feelings aren’t enough, either for the American public, which battles obesity, or the fresh produce business that feeds it.

For now, feeling good about the effort is just fine.

Obama has proven to be an energetic advocate of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among children, and her visibility to the cause has never been higher. The fact that she shares the dream of adding 6,000 salad bars to U.S. schools makes her the first lady of produce and one of the most important personalities in the fruit and vegetable world.

But the industry needs to build on this solid start.

There are 31 million children who use the federally supported school meal programs. A whole lot more than 6,000 salad bars will be needed to make a dent in childhood obesity.

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