Chicago's "Cool Food" Program of Salad Bars in Schools Boosts Healthy Eating for Children

Pilot effort to increase fresh fruit and vegetable choices through classroom nutrition education and salad bars in two Chicago minority schools

In 2004, the Chicago schools began a "Cool Food" program, offering salad bars in schools. In a 2005–06 project, researchers from the Chicago Food System Collaborative studied whether providing nutrition education to children affected their lunch choices in schools with salad bars.

The Chicago Food System Collaborative is a consortium of community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, technical assistance providers and academic institutions. One of its missions is to increase access to healthy foods in minority communities.

Key Findings: Jamie B. Bussel, the project's program officer at RWJF, notes that the main finding is: "When the environmental change of offering salad bars in schools has been implemented, their use is increased, especially when the change is also coupled with nutrition education."

  • Children ate more fresh fruit and vegetables after receiving nutrition education.
  • Children's knowledge of fruits and vegetables significantly increased after receiving nutrition education.