Serving salad means kids eat better meals
Aikahi Elementary School's 500 children get to choose their own vegetables at a salad bar once a week instead of being stuck with something they hate to eat.
As a result, the "waste was reduced by half. The kids really love it," said Principal Gay Kong.
"It's great. ... They made the association between growing and eating food," Kong said. "But it's a lot more expensive than if we bought it from the cheapest (food) sources."
The salad bar was funded for the first time last year by the AINA in the Schools program, founded by the nonprofit Kokua Hawaii Foundation. This year the Parent Teacher Student Association is paying the extra 50 cents per child to enable the program to continue, amounting to an additional $2,000 per month for one day a week, Kong said.
The program "fits in with the wellness objective" directed by the state Board of Education, she added.
Another plus of the program is that it supports local food suppliers. The students know what vegetables and fruits come from "such and such a farm," she said. The kids also cultivate gardens as part of the AINA program but do not grow enough to supply their salad bar.
Serving lunch has become a lot more labor intensive because "every day now we always offer a choice," of vegetables and a meat-based or vegetarian entree, Kong said: They need four parents to help serve the kids.