Farmers Market Salad Bar

The Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) Farm to School Program is a practice-based intervention designed to promote healthy eating in children by increasing the availability of fruits and vegetables in school lunches and providing nutrition education to increase knowledge of and improve attitudes toward eating a variety of locally grown produce. The RUSD approach is revenue neutral for the district’s nutrition services and income-generating for local, small farmers.

This nationally recognized program addresses multiple levels of the socio-ecologic model with a primary focus on changing the school environment to increase access to fruits and vegetables and a secondary focus on individual behavior change. Additionally, the program impacts community environments by supporting local, small farms and helping to preserve farmland.

Image of salad

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.

As you can see, we are locally grown, we’re nationally known and we have a global reach.