Food Management Digizine - Q1 2023


Mike Buzalka

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Fairfax County Public School District in Virginia to halt a robust salad bar program but now they’re back, apparently to great acclaim by their young customers. FM approached the district’s acting assistant director, Lisa Diapoulis, with three questions about the salad bar revival… FM: What is the rollout schedule and when is it expected to be completed? Diapoulis: “The return of the school salad bars is being phased into all of our elementary schools (142) first with a completion date of May 2023. This includes 40 elementary schools who are having salad bars for the first time. They were scheduled in 2020, but due to COVID, we stopped implementing them.” FM: What operational adjustments do district cafeterias have to make to resume the salad bars (kitchen prep activities, staff reassignments, space allocation, etc.)? Diapoulis: “We have to train all students on how to use the salad bar with tongs and making appropriate portion size choices specifically choosing at minimum a ½ cup of fruit and/or vegetable per USDA OVS guidelines. Our staff need to be trained on menu offerings, food preparation, ordering and salad bar set-up. We need to work with the school-based staff, including admin and teachers for salad bar placement in the cafeterias and lunch schedules.” FM: What impact is the revival of the salad bars expected to make on the school meal program? What are the main benefits? Diapoulis: “The main benefit is the students get to choose by self-selecting using utensils such as tongs and serving spoons and their portion sizes of fresh fruits and vegetables that they would like for lunch. With the regular lunch line, students could choose one serving of fruit and two servings of vegetables, per USDA/VDOE requirements, but now it is unlimited.” After a nearly three year interruption, salad bars recently made their way back to school lunchrooms in the Fairfax County Public School District in Virginia.

Students get to make their own choices on the salad bar line.

Staff had to be trained on menu offerings, food preparation, ordering and salad bar set-up to prepare for the reintroduction.

Kids also choose their own dressings.

The salad bars have been popular with kids in the sites where they were reintroduced.

Some satisfied salad bar customers show their choices.


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