Students Are Eating Up Salad Bars in Nevada County

From kindergartens to high schools, salad bars are a growing trend in school cafeterias. Who doesn’t love choosing their own salad components from a selection of fresh, healthy vegetables and proteins? Three schools in Nevada County now host salad bars, and we are hoping to increase that number in the near future.

2014-09-15 10.40.40Grass Valley Child Nutrition Services is piloting a salad bar at Bell Hill Academy this year – with great success. Principal Deb Plate thinks she knows why the salad bar is such a hit: “It’s all about them being able to choose what they want to eat. Federal nutrition standards require that they take a certain amount of vegetables, and not only are they taking more than what is required, even the kindergartners eat everything they take – that amazes me as a mother.” In addition to a salad mix of romaine and spinach, the children are able to choose from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that may include oranges, strawberries, pineapples, apples, plums, pears, kidney or garbanzo beans, corn, broccoli, carrots, and more. The salad bar is available every day, unless it is raining.

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Another benefit to the salad bar – the number of students who buy the school lunch has increased, which means more money for the school from the National School Lunch Program. Principal Deb Plate is thrilled: “I‘ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from parents – one parent told me that her child now eats more vegetables at home. Kudos to Suzanne Grass and her crew at the Central Kitchen for making this happen –it has been such a positive thing for our school.”

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Nevada Union High School has a brand new salad bar this year, which has been a boon for NU students who were used to getting their lunch at Briar Patch’s salad bar. The campus is closed this year, and students may no longer leave at lunch time. They don’t seem to mind, with all the new menu choices. The NU salad bar (donated by Sierra Harvest) is stocked with an abundance of fresh produce and meats, an increasing portion of which will be locally procured.  Nevada Joint Union High School District Food Service Director Theresa Ruiz supports local farmers and producers such as Greg’s Tomatoes, Culture Shock, and Truckee Sourdough by purchasing as much local and regional food as she can manage within a very strict budget: “We are collaborating with Sierra Harvest and BriarPatch to seek out regional farmers who can stock the salad bar with local vegetables.”  If you are a local grower that is interested in supplying fresh produce for the NU salad bar, please contact Aimee Retzler at

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 Grizzly Hill School is also in the process of getting a salad bar up and running this year, with the help of Sierra Harvest.  Debbie Gomez, Grizzly’s Hills Food Service Manager, can’t wait to let the kids choose their veggies instead of the kitchen staff pre-plating salads for the kids, since most kids will eat what they choose for themselves.  Their focus will be on organically grown fruits and vegetables. Would you like to help Sierra Harvest put a salad bar in YOUR school? Contact Aimee Retzler at to find out how you can make this happen.