Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

A school salad bar increases frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption among children living in low-income households

Wendelin M Slussera1a2 c1, William G Cumberlanda1, Ben L Browdya1, Linda Langea1 and Charlotte Neumanna1a2

a1 School of Public Health, University of California – Los Angeles, 1100 Glendon Avenue, Suite 850, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA

a2 School of Medicine, University of California – Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA


Objective To measure change in fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption among elementary-school children after the introduction of a salad bar programme as a lunch menu option in the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) reimbursable lunch programme in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

Design A cross-sectional sample of children was interviewed before and after a salad bar intervention (1998 and 2000, respectively) utilising a 24-hour food recall questionnaire. Frequencies of F&V consumption were calculated.

Setting The evaluation took place in three LAUSD elementary schools participating in the salad bar programme and the USDA reimbursable lunch programme.

Subjects Three hundred and thirty-seven children in 2nd–5th grade (7–11 years old).

Results After the salad bar was introduced, there was a significant increase in frequency (2.97 to 4.09, P < 0.001) of F&V consumed among the children studied. The increase in frequency of F&V consumed was almost all due to an increase during lunch (84%). Mean energy, cholesterol, saturated fat and total fat intakes were significantly lower in the children after the salad bar was introduced in the schools compared with the intakes in the children before the salad bar was introduced.

Conclusion A salad bar as a lunch menu option in the USDA reimbursable lunch programme can significantly increase the frequency of F&V consumption by elementary-school children living in low-income households.

(Received August 14 2006)

(Accepted March 28 2007)


c1 Corresponding author: Email