July 29, 2016

Produce Companies Unite to Bring Healthy Choices to Schools

2014 marked the inaugural year of the first-of-its-kind event, Tour de Fresh. The event brings together the industry’s most significant and influential companies to raise money to support a common cause: bringing salad bars to schools. Research has shown that access to salad bars in schools increases children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables. According to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics, childhood obesity rates have more than tripled since 1980, but the overall rates have remained the same over the past 10 years. Research also shows obesity rates in children ages 10 to 17 ranges from 10 to 22 percent across the United States. As an industry responsible for growing, shipping, and distributing fresh fruits and vegetables, providing a solution to this growing problem was an easy decision.

Aside from having healthy options at school, children with access to salad bars are able to try an assortment of fruits and vegetables that they otherwise may have not been able to try. In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine published that salad bars in schools added as many as two additional servings of fresh produce to student’s daily intake. Typically, school districts are either unaware of the benefits salad bars can bring to their students, or have been unable to afford the basic equipment needed to adopt this strategy. The powerful health benefit that can come with a modern, food-safety compliant salad bar is too often blocked by the prohibitive capital cost in many school districts. According to Tour de Fresh representatives, there are over 600 schools in the United States whom can’t afford these salad bars.

To date, the Tour de Fresh program has raised enough funds to provide over 100 salad bars to schools. Each year, representatives from fresh produce companies embark on a three day bike ride. In 2014, riders rode from Monterey, CA to Anaheim, CA. In 2015, the journey started in Hickory, NC and ended in Atlanta, GA. This year, the 192 mile race started in Napa on July 26, running along the central coast of California and crossing the finish line in Monterey on July 28. Tour de Fresh riders cover a spectrum of skill levels. From novice to elite riders, the teams are “committed to training, riding and completing the trek as a unit.”

The 2016 Tour de Fresh goal is to double their salad bar success by raising enough funds to provide 100+ new salad bars in school districts across the country. Our Tanimura & Antle team this year is formed by Aaron Torres (Sales Manager), Helena Beckett (Director of Walmart Sales), Joey Bruno (Replenishment Analyst) and Christa Schuck (Director of Foodservice Sales). Together they are raising money to fund salad bars in the San Diego Unified School District and Moorpark Unified School District. All the riders worked hard to fund raise for the special cause, resulting in a total of $157,312.00 that will go towards salad bars.

A ceremony was held after the riders crossed the finish line at the Wharf Market Place. Special guests in attendance included Congress Representative, Sam Farr and Congress candidate Jimmy Panetta. After thanking and congratulating the riders, Jimmy, also a Monterey County local stated:

“I look forward to people knowing that this isn’t only the salad bowl of the world, but the salad bar of the world.”

Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools is creating the opportunity make change.

To learn more, visit tourdefresh.com.