Purpose: To assess the prevalence of school salad bars in Arizona and to describe common practices of salad bar use among school nutrition managers across grade level.
Design: Cross-sectional web-based surveys.
Participants: School nutrition managers from elementary, middle, high, and K-12 schools (N = 648).
Measures: Prevalence of salad bars; implementation practices such as years with salad bar, salad bar type, location, monitor, and reimbursement practices; and food-related components of salad bars including frequency of items, popular items, and sources of food.
Analysis: Descriptive analyses were conducted including Fisher exact test, analysis of variance, and the Kruskal-Wallis test comparing practices across grade level (elementary, middle, high, and K-12 schools).
Results: Overall, 61.1% of respondents had a salad bar; there were significant differences in the prevalence across grade level: elementary, middle, high, and K-12 schools had prevalence of 67.3%, 75.0%, 45.5%, and 51.1%, respectively ( P < .001). We observed significant differences in the implementation and food-related components of salad bars across grade levels including type, salad bar location, sources of food, and frequency of serving cut vegetables.
Conclusion: This study provides insights on the prevalence of salad bars and is the first to report on implementation practices of school salad bars. These results may also guide the development of interventions for nutrition educators to use for the promotion fruit and vegetable consumption via school salad bars.
Keywords: children; fruits and vegetables; salad bars; school nutrition.