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Salad Bar Alternatives After the Point of Service

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin
Purpose: Policy
To: Child Nutrition Program Sponsors Number: USDA-SNP-19-2013
Attention: Food Service Directors Date: August 2013
Subject: Salad Bars in the National School Lunch Program—State Approved Alternatives for Salad Bars Positioned After the Point of Service
Reference: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Policy Memo SP 31-2013

On March 27, 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued policy memo SP 31‑2013, Salad Bars in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). This revised memo supersedes SP 02-2011 issued January 21, 2011. The memo, including question and answer section, can be found on the USDA School Meals Policy Memos Web page at This Management Bulletin (MB) addresses the portion of SP 31-2013 related to salad bars positioned after the Point of Service (POS).

Salad bars have the potential to positively impact student consumption of fruits and vegetables, increase the variety of vegetables and fruits offered, and reduce plate waste. The USDA encourages the use of salad bars in the NSLP and many School Food Authorities (SFA) utilize them for breakfast bars as well. In addition, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and his Team California for Healthy Kids (TCHK) initiative address the need to increase consumption of fresh foods, specifically through salad bars.
Point of Service

In order to ensure that student selections meet portion requirements for a reimbursable meal, and to credit vegetables offered toward the weekly subgroup requirements, salad bars should be positioned before the POS. However, the physical layout of many school food service areas requires that salad bars are located in areas after the POS. Acknowledging this challenge, the USDA has authorized state agencies to establish approved alternatives for these situations. The California Department of Education (CDE), Nutrition Services Division (NSD), has determined two alternatives that SFAs may implement without prior state approval.

  1. Trained, Dedicated Salad Bar Monitor: SFAs may position a trained monitor at the salad bar to ensure students select portion sizes that meet the requirements of a reimbursable meal. Monitors must be dedicated to the salad bar and may not leave to re-supply the salad bar or perform other duties. In addition, monitors must be trained in food safety and SFAs must maintain a record of all salad bar monitor training.

SFAs may assign food service staff as monitors. Alternatively, other school staff such as teachers, administrators, and duty aids may be trained and assigned as monitors. SFAs may also consider the training and use of older students or parent volunteers.

  1. Reroute Student Entry to the Food Service Area: Where feasible, SFAs may alter student entry to the cafeteria to permit students access to the salad bar prior to entering the food service area. This provides students the opportunity to select salad bar items before entering the food service area to select entrées and other components of the reimbursable meal.

Districts should contact their local health department to determine if there are specific guidelines that must be followed for the installation and use of salad bars.

School Food Authorities Proposed Alternatives

State agencies may also authorize, on a case-by-case basis, SFA-proposed alternatives for salad bars positioned after the POS. Such requests must be submitted in writing to the state agency for review and approval. To assist SFAs proposing individual alternatives, the NSD developed form SNP 40, Alternative Point of Service Request, available in the Child Nutrition and Information Payment System under Applications, Download Forms.

Unmonitored Salad Bars Positioned After the Point Of Service

SFAs must be aware that student selections from unmonitored salad bars do not count toward either the reimbursable meal or the weekly vegetable subgroup requirements. Student selections from unmonitored salad bars are considered additional food and must be included in the dietary specifications for calories, saturated fat, and trans fat. However, well-maintained, colorful salad bars, monitored or unmonitored, are popular with students, staff, and parents and have the potential to increase student participation. SFAs are encouraged to market the availability of salad bars to these target audiences.

Increasing Participation/Controlling Costs

The NSD realizes that the space and/or layout at many school sites prohibits placement of salad bars before the POS. These salad bars can still play a significant role in increasing student consumption of fruits and vegetables and have the potential to increase student participation in the meal programs. Regardless of the position of your salad bar, marketing to students, parents, and staff is essential. Student and staff awareness of the availability of choices similar to those available at off-campus venues can result in greater participation from both audiences. Parents appreciate knowing that their children have increased access to a variety of nutritious vegetables and fruits at both breakfast and lunch. In addition, student nutrition education—in the classroom and the cafeteria—along with taste testing opportunities and ongoing marketing can help influence student selection of fruits and vegetables.

Controlling the cost of salad bars is also important. Procuring produce from local sources can greatly assist in keeping costs down, while at the same time supporting local agriculture. In addition, selecting produce based upon seasonality also helps in reducing salad bar costs.

Future Training and Technical Assistance

The NSD has convened an internal workgroup to address SFA training and technical assistance needs related to salad bars. Future training opportunities may include in‑person workshops, Webinars, best practices, and online resources. A future MB will detail the NSD salad bar training plan.


The following resources are available to support the successful implementation of salad bars.

Contact Information

For more information regarding this subject, please contact Lori Porter, Child Nutrition Consultant (CNC), Southern School Nutrition Programs Unit (SNPU), by e-mail at or by phone at 916-322-1454, or Stephanie Enright, CNC, Northern SNPU, by e-mail at or by phone at 916-323-0122.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
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