HARKER HEIGHTS — The first salad bar in a Killeen school district cafeteria officially opened Friday at Harker Heights High School by serving a “grand opening” salad lunch to school officials.

Steve Murphy, Killeen ISD nutrition director, said HHHS was chosen for the pilot program because of its close proximity to fast food restaurants and convenience stores. If the program proves to be a success at Harker Heights High School, the school district may consider implementing it on other campuses.

“What we’re trying to do is have more participation with the high school students eating in our cafeteria,” he said.

With its sparkling new refrigerated tabletop unit filled with a variety of salad toppings, the salad bar has proven popular with both students and staff since its soft opening just before Christmas, Murphy said. “I’ll put this salad bar up against any salad bar in Killeen, and I would say it’s better. So far it’s been very well accepted.”

Murphy gave credit to Linda Sanders, cafeteria manager, for getting the program started. Sanders said it took a while to get the salad bar up and running, but she’s pleased with the results so far. In the few weeks since the salad bar opened, salad sales to students have grown substantially.

“It’s been a long road, a very long road,” Sanders said. “We didn’t know how this was going to go over with the students. We figured the staff, the faculty would like it, but we started making 10 salads before Christmas, and now we’re up to over 100 a day.”

The salads are built by the cafeteria staff as directed by customers, so the bar area stays neat and sanitary. A trip to the salad bar costs $2.25 for students and $3.25 for adults and includes something from all five food groups — two cups of lettuce with choice of ham or grilled chicken, cheese, vegetables, eggs, sunflower seeds, low-fat dressing, bread or crackers, fresh and canned fruit, and milk.

“Everything here is balanced out and stays within the confines of dietary requirements,” Murphy said.

Along that line, the salad bar menu was recently validated by the Texas Department of Agriculture as part of the Healthy Hunger Free Child Act of 2010. That means the school district will be reimbursed 6 cents for every salad it sells.

“We receive a little extra money to offset all the vegetables we put out (on the salad bar),” Murphy said.

Tenth-grader Troi Hines was one of the first customers making her way through the salad bar line on Friday. A regular visitor, she said it’s a good alternative to the typical cafeteria fare and fast food.

“Sometimes I don’t feel like eating all the greasy food,” she said.

Contact Kristi Johnson at kristij@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7548

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