Our Story

In the early 2000’s, Chef Ann Cooper and her school food colleagues began sharing their experiences and knowledge about how to transform school lunch from processed, heat-and-serve meals to healthy, tasty meals. In 2009, Chef Ann founded the Chef Ann Foundation to support schools that were ready to make the change to scratch cooking.

Our Programs

  • Get Schools Cooking (GSC): A grant program launched in partnership with Whole Kids Foundation that provides in depth technical assistance, on-site assessments, and workshops to help school districts create and implement a custom plan for change.
  • Salad Bars to Schools (SB2S): A grant program that helps schools expand their commitment to serving fresh fruits and vegetables by implementing salad bars as part of their daily meal programs.
  • School Food Institute (SFI): A collection of online courses that provide the in-depth training, operational skills, and strategic vision necessary to help schools transition to healthy, scratch-cooked meals.
  • The Lunch Box (TLB): An online resource that provides free step-by-step guides, tools, and recipes to help schools improve their food programs.

“One in three children born today will have diabetes in their lifetime…This is the social justice issue of our time. Every child deserves fresh, healthy food.” –Chef Ann Cooper

Milestones

2008

2009

  • The Chef Ann Foundation (previously Food Family Farming Foundation) is established with the purpose of making school meals healthier.
  • The Lunch Box test site launches.

2010

2011

  • In its first year, SB2S grants 516 salad bars to schools, which provides 540,000 kids with daily access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • CAF launches Healthy Breakfast for Kids (HB4K).
  • The Lunch Box adds over 20 new tutorial videos throughout the website for food service directors and staff.

2012

  • HB4K helps 47,717 students gain access to breakfast by providing 117 schools across the nation with equipment grants to implement universal, after-the-bell breakfast programs.
  • Chef Ann is presented with the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ Humanitarian of the Year Award for her work in school food reform.

2013

  • CAF receives over $500,000 from The Colorado Health Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation to expand and update The Lunch Box website.
  • CAF receives Whole Kids Foundation recipe grant to fund the development of 50 kid-tested recipes for The Lunch Box; recipes will be compliant with the most current USDA nutrition standards.
  • CAF creates a three-year strategic plan to determine the pathways to school food improvements nationwide.

2014

  • CAF and The Lunch Box both launch new websites with enhanced content and resources.
  • CAF teams up with Skoop—a superfoods company committed to bringing the health benefits of superfoods to every American—to launch Project Produce: Fruit and Veggie Grants for Schools.

2015

  • CAF teams up with Whole Kids Foundation to launch Get Schools Cooking, a deep dive program into school food reform that provides a workshop, operational assessments, strategic planning, and equipment/technical assistance grants to participating school districts.

2016

  • CAF receives a grant from the Walmart Foundation to fund 101 Project Produce Schools.
  • Funded by the Colorado Health Foundation, the team begins developing what will become the School Food Institute.
  • Over 50 Farm to School recipes are added to The Lunch Box to support districts in serving more scratch cooked items featuring local ingredients.
  • CAF hosts its first Real School Food Challenge to raise awareness about the need for school food change.

2017

  • CAF launches the first School Food Institute online course - School Food 101 - to support schools making the transition to scratch cook operations.
  • SB2S celebrates the granting of 5,000 salad bars to schools across the country.

2018

  • Seven additional School Food Institute courses are launched. They cover finances, procurement, salad bars, lunchroom marketing, and more.
  • CAF launches the More Plants Please! Initiative to help schools serve plant-forward and plant-based meals.
  • Get Schools Cooking hits the 15 district mark with its third cohort.

2019

  • School Food Institute grows to eleven courses and includes content focused on sustainability and nutrition.
  • CAF celebrates its 10th year!
  • The first national Real School Food Challenge coordinates 12 chefs across the country. Restaurants created and served USDA-compliant meals on their menus, and donated the proceeds to CAF.

2017 Annual Report

Be sure to check out our 2017 Annual Report and catch up on all the program successes we share inside! 

From the Blog

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Chef Ann Cooper and other notable school food reform advocates discuss the importance of healthy school food for kids.