By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook
The Boulder school district owns two kinds of salad bars: a stainless model with plug-in refrigeration costs upwards of $6,000. A simpler, polyethylene model costs around $2,500. At Columbine Elementary School, I watched kitchen assistant Tammy Steele assemble a salad bar for lunch service. The first thing she did was lay a plastic quilt of ice at the bottom of the bar's well to keep the foods chilled.
Plastic cross-members form the structure in which the food trays will rest.
Steele places food trays filled with an assortment of vegetables prepared by a production kitchen, as well as items like hard-boiled egg, pickled jalapeno, diced chicken and tuna salad.
Each item gets a separate serving piece, such as tongs or plastic spoon.
Finally, Steel loads the dressings, typically Itlaian, ranch and balsamic.
Kids seem perfectly capable of serving themselves without much adult supervision.
Salad bars give kids the ability to choose their own foods. You never know what they'll do with it.