Salad Bars

Learn more about the introduction of salad bars at all Fairfax County Public Schools and discover the upcoming plans of Shaun Sawko, the incoming Food and Nutrition Services Director at FCPS, by clicking here.


Real Food for Kids was launched in 2010 by a group of parents in Fairfax County, VA alarmed by the rising rates of childhood obesity and diet-related disease and the quality of food being served in Fairfax County Public Schools.

From our founding, Real Food for Kids advocated for the installation of salad bars to increase the quantities of fresh, whole foods available to students during lunch. While few school districts in 2010 had full salad bar programs, research and success stories show that children, when offered a variety of options from a salad bar, significantly increase their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. These positive experiences – the opportunity to self-select foods they like as well as try new fruits and vegetables – shape children’s experience around healthful foods both in and out of school. Further, salad bars reduce perceived stigma around school meals for students on free meal programs by offering delicious options that appeal to all students and raising school meal participation.

In 2016, Fairfax County, under the direction of Food and Nutrition Services Director, Rodney Taylor, launched Real Food for Kids Salad Bars, a five-year rollout of free-standing salad bars in all of the district’s 141 elementary schools. Taylor, whose salad bar program in Riverside, CA was considered a standard by many, branded the salad bars for Real Food for Kids in recognition of our advocacy and tireless collaboration with school nutrition services. Equipment for salad bars was provided through the Salad Bars to Schools (SB2S) program, a partnership of the Chef Ann Foundation and the Whole Kids Foundation who have supported installation of school salad bars nationwide reaching 3.5 million children. Real Food for Kids Salad Bars were recognized by SB2S and former Virginia First Lady, Dorothy McAuliffe, who supported the expansion of No Kid Hungry in Virginia during her tenure.

While COVID school closures and adaptive food safety measures shuttered salad bars in Fairfax for three years, Real Food for Kids intensified our collaboration with School Nutrition Services and FCPS Superintendent Michelle Reid, to reopen all elementary school salad bars in school year 2022-2023. This was followed by the opening of salad bars in all middle and high schools on Day 1 of school year 2023-2024.