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Riverside Unified School District Farmers' Market Salad Bar Program


The Riverside United School District (RUSD) Farm to School Program takes a comprehensive approach to promoting healthy eating. Its primary component is the Farmers' Market Salad Bar, a daily salad bar stocked with produce provided by local farmers. The percentage of salad bar offerings that are locally grown ranges from 50-100%, depending on the time of year. The daily salad bar is offered year-round as an alternative to the hot lunch meal. For certain meals like hamburgers or tacos, students do not have to choose; they are offered both the hot meal and salad bar.  

Intended for primary school children (kindergarten through sixth grade), RUSD changes the school food environment and supports healthy eating behaviors by providing multiple, hands-on educational opportunities. The program offers cooking carts, chef and farmer visits to the classroom, Harvest of the Month teacher training and activities, school gardens, and field trips to farms and farmers markets.

The salad bar component of the program was started with grant funds; however, within a short time it was quickly and fully integrated into the school meal program and food service budget. The program is financially solvent and local foods are paid for through the general budget. Local farmers sell fresh produce to the school, participate in speaking engagements and attend school events, such as farmer presentations and assemblies.

Intended Population:Primary school (K-6) children

Secondary Audience:Local, small farmers

Setting: Elementary schools

Length of time in the field: RUSD Nutrition Services implemented a pilot phase in three elementary schools during the 2005-2006 school year. The following school year, it established one salad bar a month in each elementary school (29 schools total). In addition to the salad bar, it implemented educational components in each elementary school, with activities varying by site.