Garden bars are a new way the Oshkosh Area School District is enhancing their Farm to School program, making it easier to offer more Wisconsin-grown fresh produce to the students. Research has shown that garden bars in school lunches increase the children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables. When offered a wider variety of fresh, healthy food options on the garden bars, the students are more willing to try new items, and to eat more of their favorites. This helps them to develop habits that support healthy eating over their lifetime.
Garden Bars at OASD focus on offering fresh vegetables and fruits, initially to include one fresh fruit, one frozen or canned fruit, leafy salad greens, and up to three additional vegetables. The Garden Bars are positioned as the first serving area encountered in the lunch line, since fruits and vegetables are required meal components and the colorful display of produce will entice children to choose these components. A cyclic menu coincides with the school lunch menu and work with the existing Farm to School Program to integrate fresh, locally grown products. Local partners like re:TH!NK helped to introduce the bars with volunteers at each new Garden Bar site to help children make good choices, and to hand out buttons, stickers, or other promotional materials.