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Friday, September 22, 2017

Homegrown Salad Bar Becomes Staple at MISD Elementary School

It’s not every day that children are excited to eat their fruits and vegetables, but at one Mansfield ISD school, the produce is a result of weeks of hard work.

Tarver-Rendon Elementary School is home to the district’s first salad bar for elementary school students. The idea is part of the school’s new agricultural leadership program, which teaches students responsibility through growing and caring for plants and animals.

Students in the program plant and harvest vegetables at an on-campus garden. The school worked in partnership with the district’s Student Nutrition Services to feature those homegrown fruits and vegetables in a salad bar during lunch.

“It’s a great addition to our agricultural program,” said Shaye Anne Atwood, agricultural leadership teacher. “The students can use the bar to get a side salad or to have a salad for their meal. Some of the items are grown right here, and we also work with a local farmer to supply items.”

The featured homegrown produce will rotate with the seasons.
Atwood said the students have responded positively to the new salad bar because they were part of the entire process, from seedling to full-grown food. Jenny Laib, assistant director of student nutrition, added that students who normally don’t like healthy foods are coming back for seconds.

“The best part about the salad bar is watching the kids light up,” said Laib. “The fact that they’re getting to customize it and use the utensils themselves, we’re seeing a huge difference with the kids with how well received it’s been.”

Tarver-Rendon Elementary School’s salad bar is being tested out on third and fourth-graders first. Staff hope to expand the food option to other grades in the near future.

Apart from the salad bar, agricultural leadership skills are incorporated into all subjects at the campus. Atwood said her hope is that the program will grow and follow the students throughout their educational career.

For more information about the agricultural leadership program, and other Mansfield ISD Power of Choice initiatives, visit the district website.