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Farmers' Market Salad Bar Program

On September 17, 1997, the SMMUSD Food & Nutrition Services Department launched its first Farmers’ Market Salad Bar at McKinley Elementary School as part of the school’s regular lunch program. Presently, Farmers’ Market Salads are offered in all of our schools as an alternative to the hot lunch.Salad Bar is chosen by one third of the students most days.

The Salad Bar offers fresh, seasonal, locally grown fruits and vegetables purchased directly from farmers at the Wednesday and Saturday Santa Monica Farmers’ Markets. Orders are placed in advance with farmers and produce is packed and ready to be picked up our driver before the market even opens.

A Salad Bar coordinator at each school site prepares the Salad Bar fresh daily. The FMSB adheres to the National School Lunch Program guidelines by offering all 5 food groups – fruits, vegetables, bread/ bread alternate, meat/meat alternate and milk.

This unique school lunch is no longer just a salad bar - it has become a sustainable program. Under the umbrella of the Farmers’ Market Salad Bar have sprung many nutrition education programs including school gardens, cooking in the classroom, and tours to the Farmers’ Market.

The Farmers’ Market Salad Bar has been awarded the Restaurant Hospitality’s Best Kids Menu in America and the California School Boards Association’s Golden Bell Award. It has also become a highly regarded Farm to School Model for schools not only in the United States but in other countries as well.

Farmers' Market Facts and FAQs

The Cool Lunch

While the Farmers' Market Salad Bar is available on a daily basis, the Food & Nutrition Services Department now offers Cool Lunch on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week in our elementary schools! The Cool Lunch combines our salad bar program and hot lunch program, offering and providing our kids with choices from both menus!

Locally Grown, Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables

Buying local ensures the freshest, most flavorful produce. Produce purchased at the Farmers’ Market was picked the day before and is on our salad bars within a day! Seasonal means that the selection of fruits and vegetables on the salad bar varies at different times of the year – for example, strawberries are not served in December! It also means that certain types of produce may never be seen on the salad bars – like magoes - because they are imported from Mexico and Central America.

Pesticide Free

None of our farmers use pesticides on the produce.

Vegetable Choices at the Salad Bar

The Salad Bar Menu includes at least 3 seasonal vegetables plus lettuce.
Lettuce is a mix of Romaine, Green Leaf and Red Leaf.  Examples of seasonal vegetables served are carrots, celery, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, corn on the cob and  tomatoes.

Fruit Choices at the Salad Bar

The Salad Bar offers 2 or more seasonal fruits.  Examples of seasonal fruits served are apples, oranges, grapes, kiwi, melons, strawberries, and tangerines.

Additional Food Choices at the Salad Bar

Pasta, whole grain bread, grated cheese are served every day.  Two Protein choices are offered daily.  They include turkey ham, tuna, hard boiled eggs and cottage cheese. Baked Potatoes are offered 1 day a week. Protein foods such as baked chicken nuggets or turkey hot dogs are sometimes offered at the salad bar. Whole wheat pasta, beans, dried fruit and trail mix are served daily when available from USDA.

Packaged Salads

Secondary Schools that do not have a salad bar, offer packaged salads that use the same Farmers’ Market Produce as used on salad bar. Packaged Salads are offered in the cafeteria and on food carts.

Volunteering at your school salad bar

Volunteers are welcome to assist in prepping the salad bar.  Mondays and Thursdays are especially busy days because produce is delivered on these days.  If you are interested contact


Jack Balderama, Bernard Ranch, Jaime Farms, Tim Monohan,  Harry Nicholas, Bob Polito, Sea Canyon, Gloria Tamai

What is the SMMUSD Farmers' Market Fresh Fruit and Salad Bar Program (FMFF & SB)?

It is a partnership with local, state and federal agencies and the Santa Monica - Malibu communities to encourage the development of healthier eating habits for students. It's primary objectives are to make available to students (on a daily basis) farm fresh produce to increase their daily intake of fruits and vegetables and to give students a comprehensive curriculum (with hands-on activities and field trips) that will aid them in developing and maintaining dietary behavior throughout their life.

What are the nutritional requirements of the FMFF& SB?

Under the USDA guidelines, the SMMUSD participates in a philosophy of "Offer versus Serve" program.
To meet the USDA requirements, the salad bar provides multiple selections from each of the following 5-catetories:
>  Bread
>  Milk
>  Protein
>  Fruit
>  Vegetables
Each student participating in the FMFF & SB is required to take at least one (1) serving from each category. Of course, we delight in the fact that most our students are quite generous in treating themselves with a full buffet plate from the extensive variety offered at the salad bar.

What factors determine the selection items for the FMFF & SB?

The most influential factor in determining selection items for the FMFF & SB is of course, seasonal availability. This is key, since the produce is purchased directly from the farmers and some items do vary by season.
The "seasonal availability" of produce has been an educational asset in that it broadens the student's understanding of supply and demand as well as "quantity consumption." In addition, students have become more cognizant that certain foods only grow in our region during particular seasons.
Another major factor in determining the selection items is each school's unique diversity and cultural make-up.
What is not a factor is any one school's location or social and economic make-up. SMMUSD's FNSD (in partnership with devoted nutritional sponsors) fully supports the program equally to all school sites.

How does the produce get from the Farmers’ Market(s) to the school sites?

Each school site submits their specific (specially) designed produce orders to the FNSD twice a week. The orders are placed with farmer members of the Farmers' Market(s), and a staff member from the FNSD picks up and delivers the fresh produce to the school site cafeterias.

Who prepares the produce for presentation in the Salad Bar?

The Salad Bar Coordinator, with the assistance of parent volunteers, creates an artistic and colorful presentation of the freshly prepared fruits and vegetables for the students. It was evident early on in the program that the salad bar presentation was a key factor in promoting the success of the program. The Salad Bar Coordinator and parent volunteers are detail orientated in making sure that the salad bar has a vivid and appealing display with a wide variety of healthy and tasty produce from which the students can choose.

More Matters!

Fruits and Veggies – More Matters! The power of fruits and vegetables is huge! They are filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals to keep our children healthy and strong.

Our Garden Program

History of the SMMUSD School
Garden Program

Garden-Based Nutrition Education
Affects Fruit and Vegetable

Impact of Garden-Based Nutrition

Kids Cook Farm-Fresh Food Guide

Activity - Finger Salads

Crop Circles

Soil and Water

A Garden Plot - The Tale of Peter

Understanding How Plants Begin
as Seeds - Grades 1 to 3

Follow Food From Farm to Fork -
Grades 4 to 6

A Sour Subject Lesson Plan -
Grades 5 and 6

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District
1651 16th Street
Santa Monica, California 90404