Barriers to introducing salad bars among schools in Arizona: a cross sectional study across school levels
Salad bars are promoted as a means to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among school-age children; however, no study has assessed barriers to having salad bars. Further, it is not known if barriers differ across school level. This cross-sectional study investigated the barriers to having salad bars across school level among schools without salad bars in Arizona (n=177). Multivariate binominal regression models were used to determine differences between the barriers and school level, adjusting for years at current job, enrollment of school, free-reduced eligibility rate and district level clustering. The top five barriers were not enough staff (51.4%), lack of space for salad bars (49.7%), food waste concerns (37.9%), sanitation/food safety concerns (31.3%), and time to get through the lines (28.3%) Adjusted analyses indicated two significant differences between barriers across school level: time to get through lines (p=0.040) and outside caterer/vendor (p=0.018) with time to get through lines reported more often by elementary and middle school nutrition managers and outside caterer/vendor reported most often by high school nutrition managers. There were several key barriers reported and results indicate that having an outside vendor/caterer for their meal programs and time to get through the service lines varied across school level. High schools report a higher percent of the barrier outside caterer/vendors and elementary and middle schools report a higher percent of the barrier time to get through the lines. Results indicate that research determining the approximate time it takes students to get through salad bar lines will need to be considered. More research is needed to determine if the barrier time to get through the service lines is due to selection of food items or if it is due to the enrollment size of the lunch period. Future research interventions may consider investigating food safety and sanitation concerns of middle school nutrition managers. Findings may be used to guide ways to decrease barriers in schools without salad bars.