Get Schools Cooking








To learn about how to submit a successful application and hear from a current recipient view our recent Get Schools Cooking webinar here



Get Schools Cooking, a program of Chef Ann Foundation, previously known as School Food Support Initiative, is for school districts who want to transition their food service operations from heat and serve processed foods to whole foods that are cooked from scratch. Through Get Schools Cooking, food service directors and their teams are guided through an intensive three-year program.


  1. To provide school districts with individualized, technical support to assist them in sustainably moving from a highly processed to cook from scratch operation. 
  2. To assess barriers and identify recommended actions in 5 key areas of school food service: Food, Finance, Facilities, Human Resources, and Marketing. 
  3. To support districts in developing action plans that create the structured framework to achieve their strategic objectives. 
  4. To provide system improvement grants that support the implementation of recommended actions and next steps.

Key Program Steps: 

Over the course of three-years districts will go through the following process: 
Application and Interview: Each district submits an application that includes detailed information such as meal counts and purchasing records. Districts are interviewed to assess their readiness and ability to participate in the program. 

Workshop: Districts attend a two-day workshop in Boulder, CO, home to one of the best examples of school food service innovation in the country. Sessions review the foundational strategies for successful school food reform and include visits to Boulder Valley School District kitchens and cafeterias to see transformation first-hand. 

On-site Assessment and Report: School food experts observe every aspect of the current operations in action and identify opportunities for improvement in day-to-day activities. Post visit analysis results in a report of recommendations that is used as a guide for next steps and working with leadership and the community. 

On-site Strategic Planning: This is where it all comes together! Chef Ann Cooper and Chef Beth Collins lead key district leadership and food service team members through a strategy session to review the actions needed to achieve the desired changes based on the result of the on-site assessment. 

Action Planning: Chef Ann Foundation’s team works with the districts to develop a focused action plan that guide districts' operations and evaluative goals. 

$50,000 Systems Assistance Grant: Districts are given the opportunity to apply for a one-time $50,000 systems assistance grant that is designed to support the identified needs and goals of their program. 

Yearly Evaluations: For two years following their assessment districts complete evaluations that measure their progress.

Cohort Connections: The 2016, 2017, and 2018 districts are provided with opportunities to learn from each other via shared Facebook groups, in-person meetings and webinars. 

Program Eligibility: 

To apply school districts must meet the following criteria:

  • Be firmly committed to working towards a scratch-cooked and fresh whole foods approach to their meal programs. 
  • Demonstrate support for improvement from district leadership.
  • Participate in the National School Lunch Program.  
  • Have a minimum district enrollment of 3000 students and serve between four and thirty schools.     
  • Run a self-operated food service program.

Previous Program Participants Have:  

  • Introduced new scratch-cooked recipes
  • Installed salad bars
  • Added new vendors to procure local products
  • Eliminated highly processed chicken nuggets and patties
  • Gained significant community support
  • Introduced whole muscle chicken

How to Apply:

We will be accepting applications until March 1, 2018. Top candidates will be invited to participate in interviews for final selection. Selected districts will complete a Memorandum of Understanding prior to initiating participation in the program.

For more information or questions on the application process, contact Heidi Kessler, Chief Programs Officer, at or 954-651-8197.


Application Preview 

Get Schools Cooking Flyer 

Would you like to post information about the Get Schools Cooking grant program? You can download a flyer here.