Every school day, students at North Dakota’s middle and high schools join their classmates for lunch in a cafeteria that is more likely than schools in any other state to offer choices from a salad bar, a June report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
At Davies High School in Fargo, for instance, students can choose from an assortment of fresh cantaloupe, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and broccoli. North Dakota leads all states in terms of the percentage of high and middle schools that offer students the choice of a salad bar for lunch.
“If we offer a little bit of ranch for dipping, that helps,” the Bismarck Tribune quoted Cindy Hogenson, nutrition services director for Fargo Public Schools, as saying about the salad bars in the district’s schools. “I’m happy to see that we are being progressive in offering fruits and vegetables in a way that’s enticing to students.”
Top 4 states, and the percentage of middle and high schools that have salad bars:
- North Dakota (91.2%)
- Vermont (86.2%)
- Nebraska (85.5%)
- South Dakota (85.3%)
Our home states of Illinois and Maryland came in well below the 50-percent mark, with 37.6 and 27.8 percent of high and middle schools in those two states offering salad bar choices for lunch, respectively. The lowest salad bar indices in the nation were awarded to North Carolina, with 13.3 percent of schools offering salad bars, and Delaware with 12.8 percent. (The statistic wasn’t available for Iowa or Colorado.)
The CDC report also considered the number of farmers’ markets per capita in all the states, as well as the percentage of school cafeterias in each state that serve food that is grown locally.