Even a tough pro linebacker wishes he had veggies in the cafeteria when he was a kid.
So New England Patriots Defensive Lineman Ron Brace told kids at the unveiling Thursday of a new salad bar at the Mauro-Sheridan Science, Technology and Communications School
Brace flanked U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Executive Director of Food Services for New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) Chef Timothy Cipriano as they spoke to students in the cafeteria about the importance of eating well.
“I have to credit Chef Tim with focusing in on nutrition,” DeLauro said, “how important food is, what kinds of food you eat, and what does it mean for your ability to think, your ability to grow, and to be strong and healthy.”
Under a program called Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools!, which started in 2008 as an initiative to place at least 6,000 salad bars in U.S. schools over the next three years, NHPS will receive two salad bars—one at Mauro-Sheridan and the other at Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School. Chef Tim—who took charge of New Haven’s school food in 2008 and is working to change lunch options, provide more fresh and local food and encourage school gardens—said he won’t be satisfied with that.
“I’ll keep asking for more,” he said. “I want to get salad bars into all of our schools.”
The salad bar program sprang out of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative. It’s sponsored by grants from NatureSeal and the United Fresh Produce Association Foundation. The effort follows the recent passing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which reauthorized and increased funding for child nutrition programs. DeLauro was a vocal advocate of the bill.
“Have you had lunch yet?” DeLauro asked the students gathered in the cafeteria, waiting to eat. That elicited a unanimous “no” from the young audience.
“You know, we should learn, you never come between people and their food,” she said.
Before students lined up at the salad bar (stocked with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber salad, bean and corn salad, carrots, tomatoes and cauliflower), they heard from a little speech from a football player.
“I’m pretty jealous,” said Brace. “When I was in school I wasn’t able to have a salad bar like this one.”
He wasn’t brought up knowing much about health, he said. But as he grew up, he figured out how important nutrition is.
“Eating healthy is vital to you both physically and mentally,” he said. In a business like his, he told the students, it’s not about the toughest guy.
“It’s about the guy who takes care of himself.”
Brace, who visited the school as part of a partner program called Fuel Up to Play 60, told students to stay away from greasy cheeseburgers and candy.
So for at least one day, they did. For lunch on Thursday: Baked chicken, baked sweet potatoes, a roll and of course, a salad.