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Before You Apply for a Salad Bar …Read This Post

Your Guide to the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools Grant Application

By: Emily Miller

Sometimes applying for grants can be a complicated process—from making sure you meet the eligibility criteria to filling out the application. At Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, our primary objective is to get the most salad bars into the most schools possible, so we want to make it easy for you to apply. In this post we break down everything you need to know to complete a successful application, ensuring that the kids at your schools can start benefiting from daily access to fresh fruits and veggies.


Before You Apply

OK, so you’ve assessed your meal program and are confident that your school district can support salad bars, and that your menu plan includes offering salad bars daily as part of your reimbursable meal program. That’s great news. Now, here are some additional considerations:

Does your school district meet the following criteria?

  1. Your school district is operating under the USDA National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Whether your school is public, private or independent, you must participate in the NSLP to be eligible to receive a salad bar from Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools.
  1. Your school/school district has at least 100 students. Any school where you plan on implementing a salad bar from Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools must have at least 100 students. (The economy of scale to implement salad bars using the salad bar equipment provided is best applied to schools that have a minimum of 100 students.)

Can I apply for more than one salad bar?

Yes. You can request a salad bar for any school in your district that has at least 100 students. If multiple schools within the district meet this requirement, then you can submit one district application and request salad bars for multiple schools. However, the grant is limited to one salad bar per school site. If your school already has a salad bar that is in good working condition, we’d rather you use our grant to implement salad bars in schools that don’t already have one. Exceptions may be made for schools with very high enrollment numbers. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Alternatively, you can also submit an application for one salad bar and then decide later if you’d like to request more bars for additional schools. All you have to do is email us with the new request and we will update your application.

Will Let’s Move Salad Bars to schools replace salad bar equipment that is worn and out of date?

Yes. If you have aging equipment that needs to be replaced, you are welcome to apply for a salad bar from Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools. If old or broken equipment is the reason for your application, be sure to let us know that in the “District Preparedness Statement” section of the application. 

What kind of salad bars are provided by Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools?

We donate Cambro Versa Food Bar equipment in two different sizes: standard height (36”) for grades 6-12 and elementary height (30”) for grades K-5. To see what comes included in each salad bar package, take a look at this salad bar brochure.

Additionally, electric salad bars may be granted. However, these bars are significantly more expensive than insulated salad bars. Cambro, our salad bar equipment provider, has performed Temperature Retention Tests (PDF) that have proven the insulated bar’s capacity to hold temperatures below 41 degrees for 4 hours. We recommend that districts present this documentation along with your Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to your local health authority before assuming that an electric bar will be the only acceptable option.

Still interested in an electric bar? Email us at with the words “MAY NEED ELECTRIC” in the subject line. Please include your name, the name of your school or district, and contact phone number.


The Application

 Now that you’ve determined that you are eligible for our grant, here are some items to be aware of for the application.

Who should fill out the application?

The food services director for your district should be the person filling out and submitting the application. The director must remain the primary contact throughout the life of the grant. Exceptions will be made if your district or school:

  1. Uses a contract management company
  2. Is a charter or independent private school district
  3. Is not part of a larger district

Basically, whoever is in charge of food service (whether that be the principal, operations manager, outside consultant, head cook, etc.) should be the person applying and responsible for administration of the salad bar request(s).

What is needed to complete an application?

Take a look at our sample application to see what kind of information you’ll need to provide. You’ll notice that most of the questions are multiple choice or require simple one word answers requesting information on things like:

  • District enrollment numbers
  • Free and reduced (F/R) participation percentage
  • Average Daily Participation (ADP) percentage
  • Food costs
  • Staff and training
  • Superintendent contact information and district address

How should I answer the “District Preparedness Statement” question?

There is one area on the application, the “District Preparedness Statement”, where we give you more space to tell us about your salad bar implementation plan. The best advice we can give is to use this space wisely, providing the most detail possible on the steps you are, or will be taking to ready your district for salad bars. For example, does your kitchen have enough freezer space to store the insulated cam-chillers that keep the produce items cool (you can check the specs here)? If not, be prepared to tell us how you plan to obtain the space. Other useful pieces of information to include are:

  1. Details on how staff will be trained on the new equipment,
  1. How you plan to engage the students with the new offerings
  1. How your lunchroom(s) will accommodate the equipment
  1. How you plan on procuring the fresh fruits and vegetables to stock the salad bars

Below are examples of a good response to this question, and one that still needs work:

A Good Preparedness Statement:

Our district currently does not have a salad bar, so our implementation goal is to increase exposure to healthier choices. Staff will be trained on the salad bar in the August in-service and will be serve safe certified. The staff members who are currently in charge of pre-packaging fruits and vegetables into ½ cup servings will be the ones allocated to maintain the equipment. We will work with teachers and staff to organize tasting events and harvest of the month activities so when students get to the lunch line they’ll want to try the options that are there. We currently work with a local produce distribution company who will be able to support the increased volume of our fresh produce orders. Information about the salad bar will be sent home to parents and shared through social media and our monthly school newspaper. We plan on setting it up ahead of our daily menu option to hopefully entice students to take the healthier options first. Additionally, having the bar set up before the POS will ensure that we won’t need to hire extra staff to monitor the salad bar choices. We will start with the high school students and if things go well, we will incorporate it into middle school service and eventually to elementary school. We are a K-12 building. The lunchroom is in the center of the school.

One That Needs Work:

I want to show the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables to the students by implementing a salad bar. We’ve polled the children and they are excited about the idea. We want our kids to be eating healthy and we feel this is a good first step.

Does anyone else from the district besides the food service director need to sign off on the application?

Approval and support from district administrators is essential. It would be a shame if you went through all the trouble of applying only to be met with resistance from the district superintendent when funding for your salad bars has come through. Verification and signature forms must be signed by both the food services director and the superintendent, and uploaded to your application before it can be approved. If you are applying as a charter school, independent school, or Bureau of Indian Education school and do not have a district superintendent, have the principal or head of school sign this agreement instead.


After Approval

At this point, you’ve written a stellar application and we’ve reviewed it and approved it. Congratulations!

Now what?

Our program works differently than most in that we do not begin to secure funding for your salad bars until after your application has been approved. Once approved, our partners at United Fresh Produce Association and Whole Kids Foundation actively search for funding on your behalf. Since we have hundreds of schools waiting for salad bars at any given time (right now we have 385 on the approved waiting list), this can take some time. Expect funding to come within 12-14 months from the date that your application is approved, if not sooner.

Can my district or school participate in fundraising?

Yes, you are more than welcome (but not required) to fundraise on your own behalf. Our supplementary fundraising page provides tips and resources for you to rally your community behind salad bars. Directing parents, community members, and local businesses to your online donation page can help accelerate the funding process.


Ready to Apply!

 Now that you’ve carefully read through this post and determined that you meet the criteria, you are ready to apply for salad bars. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at: We look forward to receiving your application!


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