Healthy Breakfast, Healthy Lunch – BAR NONE
Work with school nutrition staff and administrators to create salad-bar-style breakfast and lunch meals, and recruit students to help select delicious, healthy options for the bar.
How Does It Work?
Studies show that when presented with easily accessible healthy options, like in a salad bar, students choose more fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods, and consumption goes up.
- Better school meals on a budget: Using behavioral economics and food psychology to improve meal selection. 2009. Cornell Food and Brand Lab.
- Salad bar nation. 2011. Whole Kids Foundation.
- Harris DM, Seymour J, Grummer-Strawn L, et. al. Let's move salad bars to schools: a public-private partnership to increase student fruit and vegetable consumption. (Research abstract). 2012. Childhood Obesity.
- Slusser WM, Cumberland WG, Browdy BL, et.al. A school salad bar increases frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption among children living in low-income households. (Research abstract). 2007. Public Health Nutrition.
Form a team of students, teachers, administrators, your school nurse, parents and school nutrition professionals to create breakfast bar and lunchtime salad/sandwich bar options in your cafeteria. The goal of this Play is to provide a breakfast/salad bar set-up that features a variety of nutrient-rich foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat and fat-free dairy and lean protein foods that students will eat.
Work with your school nutrition professionals to set up sustained use of a breakfast bar as a morning option for students and a lunch salad/sandwich bar as a midday option for lunch, either through the regular in-cafeteria programs or as part of a grab and go option.
With your team, brainstorm a list of possible foods to offer from each group (low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein).
- For instance, on the breakfast bar you might offer low-fat yogurt, fruit and vegetable smoothies, an oatmeal bar with low-fat yogurt and toppings, lean meat patties and scrambled eggs on whole grain buns and nonfat or low-fat milk.
- For a lunch salad bar, you might offer raw vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, low-fat cubed cheeses, dried fruit such as apricots and raisins, whole grain croutons and crackers, and diced eggs or chickpeas.
- Whenever possible, choose fresh fruits and vegetables, as they can be more appealing to students.
- Remember, reimbursable meals include more than just fruits and veggies!
Then plan a breakfast/salad bar "tryout" so students can sample different food options and rate them. You may be able to get the community and local stores involved by requesting donations of food samples.
Use the Tools and Resources below to help with planning and securing donations to help with setting up your "bar none" options, and make this a sustainable option for both breakfast and lunch.
Spread the Word
Create posters to put up in high-traffic areas, distribute flyers in classrooms and advertise your program during morning announcements. Get the word out on your school's website, blog or in your school's eNewsletter. Consider promotional activities like those found in the Healthy Eating Play A Hero's Breakfast, where you invite local celebrities to visit classrooms during breakfast to reinforce the message that breakfast is fun and important.
Get Others Involved
Everyone can help:
- Provide input on various breakfast or lunch/salad bar options
- Create posters and flyers highlighting the importance of a healthy breakfast or lunch
- Take turns helping out at taste test events
- Volunteer to help keep the breakfast bar, or the lunch-time salad bar, stocked once a week
- Work with local farms to provide regular offerings of local fruits, vegetables and dairy options
Involve the community. Schedule a meeting with your school's parent organization and let them know what they can do to help. See our Homefield Advantage tips to help involve parents and caregivers at school and at home.