2019 Serves Up Opportunity

Our CEO reflects on 2018 and talks about what’s to come in 2019

  • January 28, 2019
  • By: Mara Fleishman
  • Comments

Happy New Year! (I think I can still say that.)

At the onset, 2019 seems to have a different feel than 2018; the team and I feel more grounded in what we know and settled in what we hope to accomplish. And while the world still feels a bit unstable, it seems we have all come up with our own ways of managing stress and are more rooted in our paths.

As for the Chef Ann Foundation (CAF), this is a big year for us. We are celebrating 10 years of work and taking a closer look at what we want to help schools accomplish over the next 10 years. We are also reflecting on the amazing community and accomplishments  we have shared over the last decade. Our partners, grantees, supporters, advocates, and team members have all contributed through the years to this work, and we want to honor their efforts every step of the way.

As is with every big milestone, I want to take a minute to really reflect on how we got to this point. I have been involved with CAF since 2011; first as a board member, and for the last 6 years, as CEO. The number of people it has taken to get us here is simply staggering. These are people who believe that change can happen—that even if progress is slow, you have to stick with it. Very little happens through one person’s effort, which is why Ann and I are so grateful to this tribe of believers and changemakers. It is the collective that creates change.

One of the most exciting things about 2019 is that we have dedicated the extra funding and time to increase the reach and efficiency of our tools, resources, and grants to help schools serve healthier food. Here are just a few of the things our team is excited about:

TheLunchBox.org Next Gen:

Thanks to the Colorado Health Foundation (CHF), CAF has an opportunity to revamp and expand one of the nation’s most relied-upon tools for implementing scratch cooking in schools. With tools that target food, finance, facilities, human resources, and marketing, CAF is proud to have over 16,715 registered school users that depend on this site to create change. CAF will use new CHF funds to work with food service operators from across the country to understand what additional resources are needed and how the site can be modified to help new users explore change. We expect the launch of the new Lunch Box by April 2020.

School Food Institute - New Courses and Spanish Translation:

We are excited that the new year has also brought the launch of three new courses, Plant Forward, Sustainable Lunchrooms, and Ingredients for Healthier Kids. These courses really give school food workers the kind of operational knowledge they need to push their school programs to the next level. Remember that all courses are taught by Chef Ann, who grades and comments on homework and holds office hours to support course learnings. We’re also adding Spanish translations to all of our SFI courses.  This work was inspired by feedback from districts to better support their Spanish-speaking employees with professional development resources in their primary language.

Get Schools Cooking - Results and our 4th Cohort:

I can’t believe we’re opening our 4th cohort for the Get Schools Cooking grant in August 2019. This will come on the heel of the release of our evaluation report from 2016’s cohort. It will be really exciting to see the changes these districts have been able to make through a variety of programs and operational choices.

New Team Members:

We are so excited to welcome Leslie Stafford to the team. As our new Director of Finance and Human Resources, Leslie is a dream team member for CAF. She recently left her position as Chief Operating Officer at Boulder Valley School District (BVSD), where she had been an advocate for a cook-from-scratch school food program. Leslie oversaw the School Food Project at BVSD and has a unique understanding of what it takes to move a district to cook-from-scratch, especially in finance and HR. She will be a great advocate for other district leaders that are curious about what it takes to make the transition.

Membership Program:

We are launching a brand new membership program in 2019! For $25 a month, you can support long-term, positive change to children’s health—and receive a culinary gift curated by Chef Ann as a thank-you. Proceeds from this membership program will allow the Foundation to continue providing tools, resources, grants, and funding that schools need to feed their students healthy, scratch-cooked food.

We are determined, we are ready, and we are pumped. 2019, here we go!

Mara Fleishman

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