2018 rushed in with quite a bang. The Chef Ann Foundation team hit the ground running with an ambitious agenda to reach more. More districts, more schools, more kids.
As I started to write this blog, I took stock and realized just how incredible it is that we have a team and organizational structure capable of taking on the quality and quantity of work that is instore for us in 2018. I can remember back to when I started my work here in 2013. Four of us were working remotely from our homes trying to build awareness for school food reform and keeping up with the demand from district leaders who were passionate about a new way of looking at school food operations. And now we are nine team members strong and it’s no longer a small group of schools leading school food reform in our country.
Charging into 2018 we are raring to go and ready to take on the following work in 2018:
Looking at the work ahead of us in 2018, we are inspired and motivated that schools across the country are so engaged in making change. We know that the tide is continuing to move because we see how many people visit the Lunchbox.org for support materials, we see how many schools are applying for our grants, and we hear from schools that are pushing forward with change.
Schools in our Get Schools Cooking 2016 cohort are making big progress:
Buford City Schools in GA reduced their flavored milk offerings.
Watertown Public Schools in MA eliminated all ice cream and frozen desserts, and they replaced some processed meat products by introducing whole muscle chicken.
Bellingham Public schools in WA made a commitment to serving better school food through Bellingham Good Food Promise, a comprehensive outline that articulates the district’s key food values, and they are working to implement them through food education campaigns, by placing salad bars in every schools, and purchasing whole muscle chicken, and they are building a central cooking kitchen scheduled to open in 2019.
Our Project Produce grantees are using the lunchroom fruit and vegetable educational tasting as the impetus for change in their food program:
Diamond Lake School District in IL demonstrated to district administration the importance and impact of fresh fruits and vegetables and proved that students will eat them, which prompted the scheduling of a strategic planning session to implement more scratch cooking and continued fruit and vegetable tastings.
Cincinnati Public Schools in OH used their grant to support Cultural Celebration Days, which offered students the opportunity to expand their palates, lean about unfamiliar fruits and vegetables, and explore world cultures. Because of the celebrations, the district added new items to their salad bars, like jicama, avocado, and beets, they shifted away from steamed vegetables and now offer fresh roasted vegetables, and they made a commitment to serving more diverse options to students, including Mediterranean, Indian, and German cuisines.
Having supported the donation of now over 5,000 salad bars in schools we are also seeing great trends here. In our most recent evaluations, 70% of schools reported seeing an increase in school lunch participation after implementing salad bars. 65% of schools decreased their canned fruit and vegetable purchases, and 85% of schools increased their fruit and vegetable procurement.
The train is moving. If your school district is not talking about healthier food, you probably want to hop aboard and keep up the pace. Don’t fall behind and miss out on opportunities to improve school food and play a powerful role in leading by example to create change.
We are not even through the first quarter and 2018 already has a lot going on across the country. With so much happening, we have great need to remain focused on our long-term goals, no matter what change we are supporting and creating. My team and I remain focused on school food reform because of the need to continue supporting long-term solutions. We have many immediate needs right now in our country, and we know that small bandages do not help heal the gaping wounds. If we dig in deep to create systemic change, we can heal those wounds, and we won’t find ourselves with the same problems to solve in 10 or 15 years.
Fixing school food is not an overnight endeavor. Nearly eight years have gone by since the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act passed. It was the most progressive school food nutrition legislation we’ve seen, and getting it through congress took dedication, patience, persistence, and collaboration. But we did it. Our next steps will take just as much work and just as much time.
We all know that a balanced diet filled with fresh healthy food gives you the foundation to support success. We all know that when you eat a piece of broccoli, as opposed to canned pears in syrup, your body will perform better. We all know that children are born into circumstances, and that ALL kids deserve access to food that will help them thrive and meet their potential. This work will and should continue, and the Chef Ann Foundation will stay focused and determined to ensure all children have daily access to fresh, healthy food in schools.
Bring on 2018!]]>
By Faith Akgun
This blog has been republished with the permission of Salad Bars to Schools. View the original post here.
When Peggy Bodnar became the Food & Nutrition Services Supervisor at Boise School District in 2007, she was inheriting a progressive school lunch program that was already profoundly committed to improving the health and wellness of their students. Ten years prior to her arrival at the district, her predecessor had already started implementing salad bars in their elementary schools. This environment provided Ms. Bodnar the support and foundation she needed to keep pushing her district towards a better way of feeding their students.
Naturally, Ms. Bodnar wanted to bring salad bars to the secondary schools. She heard about the Salad Bar to Schools grant program and in 2016, received salad bars at all eight junior high schools in the Boise School District. Since the salad bars were already successful at their elementary schools, it was a smooth transition to implement salad bars at the junior highs. The cafeteria staff was familiar with the procurement process, fresh produce preparation and operation needed. The salad bars even lightened the staff’s workload. They had previously portioned out cups of fruit and vegetables prior to service. Once the salad bars arrived, they were able to prep the food in bulk. It also eliminated a significant portion of waste that was created by the pre-portioned cups.
Implementing the salad bar has been a great way for the district to meet the USDA food color variety standards. Each day, students have the opportunity to choose from eight items available at the salad bar; fresh fruit, two varieties of lettuce mix, and an assortment of toppings, such as legumes, tomatoes, carrots, zucchini slices, and more.
Ms. Bodnar says she draws inspiration from the philosophy of food guru and Registered Dietitian Ellyn Satter. Satter stresses the division of responsibility when it comes to feeding children. Adults are responsible for providing options, and children are given the responsibility and freedom to choose from what has been provided. Ms. Bodnar explains, “It’s really about providing kids with healthy choices and letting them choose. They surprise you when there’s healthy foods available.” She noted that the district has found great success in the practice of students self-serving. Rather than dictating what their food and vegetable choices are, the students are empowered to make their own choices and are in turn more excited about what is on their plate.
Over the course of the program, Ms. Bodnar was impressed by the engagement surrounding Salad Bar to Schools. She found that the support from everyone involved made the grant easy, enjoyable, and a great learning experience. Representatives from some of the district’s salad bar funders, including the Idaho Potato Commission and Tour de Fresh, even came out to visit the schools. Ms. Bodnar explains how refreshing it has been to receive this level of support throughout the grant process, “School lunch programs get bad raps. But they’ve come so far in the past five to ten years. Through programs like Salad Bars to Schools it’s like someone is saying to you, ‘We know you have a challenge, let us help,’ rather than being critical to what you are doing.”]]>
Feeding school children entails a great deal of responsibility and offers the power of choice to school districts. While it might be obvious that school food choices impact the health and academic performance of students, these choices also impact our economy and the health of our planet. Over 30 million children eat school lunch every day, which means that making responsible choices in school food creates a sizeable and lasting impact.
To enable schools to make a positive environmental impact through school lunch offerings and to teach students the benefits of making more plant forward meal choices in and out of school, we got to work crafting new recipes, developing new promotional materials, and gathering resources. Our end result is More Plants Please! a plant forward initiative we are proud to launch on The Lunch Box.
Plant forward meals are not about changing an entire meal program, but focus on offering healthy and environmentally-friendly options on a scale that is easily attainable for foodservice staff. At Chef Ann Foundation, we consider a recipe to be plant forward if it is one of the following:
All of our plant forward recipes meet USDA guidelines, were tested in school kitchens, and were approved by students so that schools can serve more plants more easily. Our new plant forward recipes also use plant-based proteins, like the chickpeas in Chickpea Masala and the tofu in Pineapple Fried rice, to provide students protein-packed dishes that help them stay full and thrive in the classroom.
After adding new recipes and identifying existing plant forward recipes, we grouped recipes together to create compliant menu cycles focused on reducing meat-based proteins. The recipes in these menu cycles still include meals like Sesame Chicken, but the meat-based dishes are balanced with plant forward meals across the cycle to avoid offering only meat-based options.
To help school food service directors educate and communicate about plant forward meals with their school communities, we created lunchroom posters and flyers for staff and families. The posters encourage students to make responsible, informed decisions by introducing them to alternative protein sources and teaching them how their meal choices affect the planet and their long-term health. For example, one poster illustrates the environmental impacts of eating plant-based proteins, while another guides students through building nutritious lunches from whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and plant-based proteins.
The two flyers include one to send around to staff and another for home. The flyer to staff explains the why, what, and how of serving plant forward meals so that staff members can choose to eat more plant-based foods and encourage students to do so too. The take home flyer helps students bring their lunch time habits home to their families by providing a roadmap to making one-bowl meals with whole grains, fresh vegetables, and plant-based proteins.
More Plants Please! recipes, menu cycles, and resources help schools make responsible and powerful decisions. “When you combine knowledge about the impact of meat-based proteins on the planet with the great responsibility of feeding students, these plant forward recipes become the natural choice,” explained Director of Food and Nutrition Services for Novato Unified School District Miguel Villarreal in a recent interview.
Even if a school can only offer a few plant forward meals, they make a substantial impact because so many children eat school lunch each day, and because when we introduce children to new foods and new ways of eating, we help them cultivate healthy habits that last a lifetime.
“Schools can be a partner to parents in introducing new foods that become the basis for a lifetime of healthy choices,” commented Nona Evans, President of Whole Kids Foundation, which works to improve child nutrition and partnered with us to bring More Plants Please! to schools.
Feel empowered to make responsible decisions with More Plants Please! Check out the free recipes, promotional materials and additional resources available on The Lunch Box today!]]>
By Laura Peuquet
While the health of America’s youth has been part of political and public conversations for some time, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) brought school food nutrition to the national forefront and paved the way for significant progress towards better school food. It raised the nutritional standards, but food manufacturers simply altered their ingredients and many schools kept serving highly processed food. The next step towards better school food is making scratch-cooked meals from fresh ingredients that kids want to eat, meals that provide the building blocks for a lifetime of better eating habits. Whether you have championed this issue or witnessed a fellow community member lead the charge, you likely heard, “Schools don’t have enough money for that.”
Turns out, school food budgets have stayed relatively stable since HHFKA. A 2014 study published in the Journal of American Nutrition and Dietetics examined the impacts of switching to scratch-cooked operations and found that although labor costs rise, they are offset by lower food costs.
It also turns out that the transition from heat and serve meals to scratch-cooked operations requires a lot of change and resources, but with the right help and support, it happens. After two years of success supporting 11 school districts, Get Schools Cooking (GSC) applications opened again on Jan 19, 2018 to help schools get that support and make the transition happen. Applications will remain open through March 1, 2018. Visionary for GSC, Chef Ann said, “This is the most exciting time for me because I get to see which districts apply and who wants to make change.”
Chef Ann Foundation and Whole Kids Foundation partner on GSC, a comprehensive three-year program that puts school districts on a fast-track to serving healthy, whole, nutritious meals made from scratch. The fabric of the program was built from Chef Ann’s 20-plus years of experience in school food operations. It provides an on-site operational assessment, strategic planning, a $50,000 systems grant to cover things like equipment, staff training, and data solutions, and continued technical support to implement the strategic plan.
Nationally recognized school food experts, Chef Ann and Chef Beth Collins visit and assess each school district and their sites to provide customized strategic plans for implementing scratch cooking across five key areas: food, finance, facilities, human resources, and marketing. These assessments are thorough and can last over a week to ensure that Chef Ann and Chef Beth can provide an accurate and achievable strategic plan.
In addition to providing assessment and strategy, GSC uses a cohort model to bring school districts together in their journey to scratch-made meals. This streamlined process enables peer-to-peer support, keeps schools on pace, and uses resources efficiently.
Since 2016, 109 schools in 11 states started transforming their school food operations. Schools are continuing to eliminate highly processed foods, like meat nuggets, patties, and crumbles, and they are introducing new recipes using fresh, whole fruits and vegetables. They are also adding raw proteins like beef, chicken, and fish to their menus. New equipment— salad bars, food processors, ovens— is being placed in school kitchens, and staff are receiving training. Students are still enjoying favorites like mac and cheese, pizza, and tacos, and now they are being made from scratch with healthier ingredients.
“The benefits of making the switch to scratch cooking in schools are far reaching, and they far outweigh any growing pains of change,” says Nona Evans, President of the Whole Kids Foundation.
According to a 2016 report from the Pew Charitable Trusts, school food directors report steady or increased participation in school lunch programs and stable or rising revenue after implementing more scratch cooking. Beyond schools, scratch cooking promotes local economic growth. It provides more jobs, and give schools the ability to purchase more ingredients locally.
Recognizing these economic benefits, more states are proposing legislation that rewards schools for local food purchases, like NY Governor Cuomo’s recently proposed legislation that includes increasing state reimbursements for schools purchasing at least 30 percent of their ingredients within the state.
While these progressive policies yield the promised local economic growth and are targeted to provide food to students who otherwise might not eat at all, these policies overlook one fact: schools need to cook to take advantage of the local procurement incentives. Schools running heat and serve operations with frozen processed food have limited opportunity to purchase locally.
With the help of GSC, schools can get on track to transition to scratch-cooking operations to reap the benefits: healthier students with full bellies who are ready and able to learn, a stronger local economy, and a future of healthy eaters.
Register for our webinar on February 8, 2018 to learn more from Chef Cooper and speak with current grant recipient and Nutritional Services Supervisor for Tempe Elementary School District Emma Kitzman.
Read more information and apply on the Get Schools Cooking page.]]>
By Faith Akgun
This blog has been republished with the permission of Salad Bars to Schools. View the original post here.
Madison Public Schools in Madison, ME teamed up with their local tomato farmer to bring the Farm to School movement to the district, giving students access to fresh and healthy options every day. In 2015, nearby Backyard Farms donated a salad bar to Madison Elementary School through the Salad Bar to Schools grant program. Backyard Farms, a large-scale hydroponic tomato farm, learned that Madison Public Schools was on the wait list to receive a salad bar so they could incorporate more fresh, nutritious food into their school lunch menu. The farm saw this as an important opportunity where they could impact the health of the community’s students, many of them their employees’ own children. This created an important connection between the school district and larger community centered around healthy eating.
Doris Lindblom has been the Food Service Administrative Assistant at Madison Public Schools for 28 years. She and her team are wholly dedicated to the health and well-being of the children they feed each day. Her daily mission is simple, “when you work for a school system, the goal is to help kids in any way you can.” When Backyard Farms stepped in and donated a salad bar to the local elementary school, the community was thrilled. The local news station broadcast the salad bar dedication ceremony, which included a ribbon cutting ceremony with the students and the president of Backyard Farms.
Once the salad bar launched, the kids took to it quickly. “Lines were slow at the beginning, but they’ve learned how to make their choices quickly. And they love the choices,” recounts Ms. Lindblom. With at least a dozen items available at the salad bar each day, it is easy to fulfill the five color Federal nutritional standard for vegetables, while offering students exciting and fresh options. With the salad bar, students have the creative freedom to put together their own colorful assembly of fresh fruits and vegetables. Ms. Lindblom explains that having the salad bar has been a great way to get kids on board with trying fresh and healthy foods that may be new to them. “If they see someone else try it, they’ll put it on their plate and try it too. They are more willing to try new things.”
The salad bar has also been an excellent way to engage with Madison’s agricultural community by incorporating local produce into the school menu. They have continued to work with Backyard Farms by purchasing all their tomatoes from the farm. Since the farm is a hydroponic green house, they are able to supply their tomatoes locally year-round, a feat not to be underestimated in the winter months in northern Maine. North Star Orchard in Madison supplies the entire district with apples and pears as well. In the spring, fiddleheads can be found throughout rural Maine. Fiddleheads are the coiled fronds of a fern before it unfurls into the broad greens we commonly recognize. The kids love these quirky little veggies and request them for the salad bar when they are in season.
The collaboration of Madison Public Schools and Backyard Farms shows how communities can deliver creative solutions to health and wellness needs. By aligning values, such partnerships fuel the mission of the Salad Bar to Schools grant program. “It works great for us. And it’s still working great three years later. That says a lot. We are grateful to have the opportunity,” says Ms. Lindblom. The Salad Bars to Schools grant program has been an incredible resource in Madison Public Schools. They are looking forward to growing the program in their remaining schools. Soon those magical little fiddleheads will find their way to the salad bars at Madison Middle and High Schools!]]>
On a personal front, my kids started 1st, 8th and 11th grade and life has been a bit of a whirlwind. Concerned about their futures, I started to educate myself more deeply regarding politics, legislation, congressional candidates, and the American democratic process in general. I am guessing this was the path for quite a few citizens in 2017.
On the Chef Ann Foundation front, we kicked some serious butt. I am approaching my 5th year at the Foundation and I have to say that 2017 was the most challenging and the most rewarding year yet. I logged many plane miles with my friend and inspiration Chef Ann (not nearly as many as her) to bring the “Scratch Cooking IS Possible in Schools” message from VA to CA to FL to HI and many states in between. The great news is that I think people are really hearing this message. Grant applications to Chef Ann Foundation programs are up, and traffic and tools usage on the Lunch Box nearly doubled in 2017. This growth and engagement tells us that schools are making their own change. It’s no longer only parent groups or rogue administration leaders pushing for school food reform…it’s ALL community stakeholders. Everyone is getting a little more educated and a little more invested in making change.
I have to take a moment to thank the team over here at CAF headquarters, a group of intelligent, dedicated, and diligent individuals all genuinely invested in bringing healthy food to all kids, in all schools, every day. These accomplishments could never have been possible without their tireless efforts and many talents:
Collectively, the team made these accomplishments:
And we are entering 2018 full steam ahead. In addition to moving into a new office space to accommodate our growing team, we are growing our programs. Stay tuned for more information about three new courses from School Food Institute. Also, School Food Support Initiative applications open late January. We will be brining on a whole new cohort ofdistricts for this 18-month individualized program that helps schools transition to real, made from scratch food. It can be done!
As your 2017 comes to an end, I wish you a happy and healthy 2018. May your year ahead be filled with learning, empowerment, and engagement, both personally and professionally. Know that great work is being done, and that change is possible.]]>
Food Service Directors and their staff have many decisions to make, factors to consider, and tasks to accomplish before school meals even hit the lunch line. Directors must train staff, procure ingredients, plan meals that meet nutritional guidelines, and do it all within budget. With so much to do, scrutinizing food labels often falls off the task list. Thanks to the Life Time Foundation, schools now have help with this tedious task. Life Time Foundation works to help schools remove the Harmful 7 Ingredients from their school meal programs. The Harmful 7 Ingredients include:
To learn more about the Harmful 7 Ingredients and the Life Time Foundation’s work, we sat down for a chat with the Foundation’s Nutrition Project Manager, Megan Flynn:
CAF: Thanks for meeting with us, Megan. Can you share a little bit about how you came to work with Life Time Foundation?
MF: You are welcome! Before working with Life Time Foundation, I was working on student wellness initiatives in one school district. I was interested in childhood obesity prevention and I saw working for Life Time Foundation as an opportunity to impact school districts across the nation. I was also inspired by Life Time’s CEO, Bahram Akradi and his strong passion for providing better nutrition for students nationwide. After graduating from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health Nutrition, I started working with the Life Time Foundation in 2015. Life Time Foundation Executive Director Barbara Koch reached out to me about the position and I immediately knew that it was my dream job.
CAF: That’s wonderful! It’s not every day you get to hear about someone finding their dream job. Could you tell us more about your role in removing the Harmful 7 Ingredients?
MF: Yes, of course! As the dietitian on the team, my role is to work closely with our school district partners to eliminate the Harmful 7 Ingredients from their school menus. I really enjoy helping directors identify areas for improvement in their menu and collaborating to find healthy solutions for their students.
CAF: What other programs do you work on at the Foundation?
MF: I also manage our free nutrition education program, Hooray 4 Healthy. Life Time Foundation understands the importance of educating children and parents on how to make informed healthy eating choices and being active every day so we created this program as a tool for first through fourth grade teachers. The program includes four short animated nutrition videos and one physical activity video. The nutrition videos teach children where food comes from, the benefits of each food group, and healthy choices they can make in each food group. The program also includes teacher guides to facilitate discussion and parent support guides to extend learning to the home. It’s a great package of information that already has seen great success in classrooms and homeschools throughout the nation.
CAF: Where should parents or schools go to find more information and sign up?
MF: All program resources can be accessed for free at www.hooray4healthy.org.
CAF: Thanks for sharing, it sounds like a great program and resource for parents and teachers! Let’s dig back into removing the Harmful 7 Ingredients. This is a big task. Can you break it down for us? What is your process?
MF: It IS a big task! That is why we work diligently to help schools and districts read labels and find replacement products. Many people might not realize just how much work goes into making school meals. Imagine doing all of this work only to find out that some foods need to be replaced. I work with Food Service Directors over a three-year period because we know these menu changes take time.
First, I conduct an initial baseline label review to find what percentage of their menu contains the Harmful 7 Ingredients. Findings are compiled into a spreadsheet that includes recommendations for replacement products and serves as a guide for collaboration during the remainder of the three-year partnership.
Once our initial analysis is complete and we have a plan in place, my team and I work closely with schools to find replacement foods and determine which items can be made from scratch. We research, share ideas from other partners, and attend food shows to find the best options for our school partners. We have even been able to work with local companies to have them adjust their products so they don’t contain the Harmful 7 Ingredients. Since school districts are such large procurement partners, companies are willing to make changes that result in fruitful partnerships.
Throughout the three-year partnership, we repeat our label reviews each year to track progress, check in with school district partners once a month to discuss successes and challenges, and adapt our plan accordingly. In the end, our goal is for our partners to use healthier replacement products and make items from scratch when possible.
CAF: What are the most common products you see that contain the Harmful 7 Ingredients?
MF: We see them the most in breakfast items, especially cereal and bars. Other common products that frequently have the Harmful 7 Ingredients are a la carte packaged snacks, condiments, salad dressings, and commodity meats.
CAF: Typically, which ingredients are the easiest or hardest to replace?
MF: Every district is different, but most districts have already eliminated all trans fats and hydrogenated oils. The hardest ingredients to eliminate are artificial preservatives and processed sweeteners because they are so prevalent in processed food.
CAF: How do you work to keep clean labels affordable for districts?
MF: Making sure a replacement is affordable is essential to our planning process. Buying an alternative might not be the answer. For example, instead of replacing one bottled salad dressing with another bottled salad dressing, schools might be able to prepare the dressing from scratch and stay within budget. We always suggest that schools look into scratch-cooked options.
School districts have also found very creative solutions with manufacturers, farmers and local companies. Often these local partnerships solve more than one problem too. For example, Minneapolis Public Schools purchases from a local turkey farmer that had a surplus of dark meat.
CAF: What is one thing that would make it easier to get rid of the Harmful 7 Ingredients in schools?
MF: A greater variety of affordable breakfast options made from whole, healthy ingredients would make it easier for school districts to eliminate the Harmful 7. It is really challenging for food service staff to prepare breakfast items from scratch when they have such a short prep time before breakfast service.
CAF: What are some of the ways that schools can start working now to remove the Harmful 7 Ingredients and move towards more scratch cooking?
MF: Great question! There are a few things schools can do:
CAF: Removing the Harmful 7 Ingredients and cooking from scratch in schools is a big task. Can you share a success story you’ve come across through your work?
MF: Yes, we have seen a lot of successes from school food programs and Food Service Directors who are finding ways to prepare more items from scratch and purchase clean products. For example, Austin Independent School District purchased blenders for each location to make salad dressings from scratch, and they also purchased food processors to prep vegetables more efficiently.
CAF: Well, thanks so much for your time, Megan, and all the work you do. We only have one more question for you, and we have to ask: what is your favorite recipe from The Lunch Box?
MF: You are very welcome, my pleasure! Well, I love curry, so one of my favorite recipes on The Lunch Box is the Butternut Squash & Chicken.
While cook from scratch programs that focus on whole fresh ingredients make it much easier to reduce ingredients like the Harmful 7, the steps to a fully cook from scratch operation can take time. By working to reduce and remove the Harmful 7 Ingredients school districts can incrementally work towards a healthier meal program based on whole fresh ingredients. Learn more about their work by watching the Life Time Foundation’s mission video and visiting https://www.ltfoundation.org/. We at Chef Ann Foundation thank Life Time Foundation for their continued support of The Lunch Box, allowing it to be a free resources available to all schools!]]>
By Laura Peuquet
This blog has been republished with the permission of Salad Bars to Schools. View the original post here.
School Nutrition Director Wimberly Brackett knew that if she could place salad bars in all Dalton Public Schools, both kids and staff would eat more whole, fresh foods. She was also confident that she could lead her food managers and the Dalton, GA community through the transition successfully. And she was right! Students, staff, and parents love the salad bars and are excited about the opportunity to eat more fruits and vegetables every day. Director Brackett attributes her success to starting small, building on existing school garden programming, and strong communications with staff and parents.
District Size - enrollment: 7500
Number of Schools in District: Nine
District F/R (Free and Reduced) Percentage: 69%
District ADP (Average Daily Participation): 66%
Director Brackett startedwith two salad bars in schools with established learning garden programs. Students in these schools looked forward to seeing fruits and vegetables from their gardens in the salad bar and staff were already accustomed to the prep work required to stock the salad bar each day. With gardens that could supply the fresh harvest, staff working successfully to stock the salad bar, and students and staff happily eating from the salad bar, Director Brackett turned to Salad Bars to Schools to supply salad bars for all Dalton Schools.
In other schools in the district staff were a little more nervous about the introduction of salad bars to their cafeterias. Director Brackett helped shift attitudes and remove any manager fears about changing work routines by sharing success stories and menus from other schools. After understanding what worked well elsewhere, the managers were able to share Director Brackett’s vision for salad bars in all Dalton Schools.
Director Brackett also garnered support from parents by being transparent with her communications about the process of bringing salad bars to schools. She explained any anticipated changes through email newsletters and other school communications. Director Brackett also regularly posts on Instagram so parents can stay up to date on cafeteria happenings.
Once the salad bars were in place and the new lunch menus were up and running, response from students, staff, and parents was very positive in all nine Dalton Schools. Students continue to be excited about the salad bars and look forward to hearing which salad bar offerings were harvested from school gardens. They also race to the cafeteria to be first in line at the salad bar. And more staff members are eating from the salad bar!
Beingwilling to take the time to connect with parents and listen to their stories was another important part of Director Brackett’s communications. Parents recognized the benefits of the salad bars immediately, and shared their children’s positive experiences andnew attitudes towards fruits and vegetables with Director Brackett. For some children, the salad bars are their only source of fresh produce. For others, salad bars expanded their personal tastes.
“I had many parents come to me and share stories of how their children started ordering salads when they go out for dinner or how their children used to not eat any fresh foods, but the salad bar gives them so many choices and helps them develop a taste for fresh fruits andvegetables,” said Director Brackett.
With a proven track record of salad bar success, Director Brackett and Dalton Public Schools are looking forward to more salad bars in their new school sites. The school district is expanding and salad bars continue to be a priority for the district. We think it is a great priority and cannot wait to continue working with Director Brackett to get more salad bars in Dalton Public Schools!]]>
Founded in 2009 by Chef Ann Cooper, a pioneer in school food reform, the Chef Ann Foundation (CAF) believes that every child should have access to fresh, healthy food every day so that they can develop healthy eating habits to last a lifetime. We think the greatest impact can be had through changing school food. By providing school communities with tools, training, resources and funding, we are able to help schools create healthier food and redefine lunchroom environments. To date, we’ve reached over 9,000 schools and over 2,900,000 children in all 50 states. This position is responsible for performing a variety of bookkeeping and accounting duties including processing payroll twice monthly, financial record keeping and transactions, including accounts payable, receivable and general ledger, and monthly financial statement preparation. This role also includes Human Resource benefit coordination and management. Advanced skills with QuickBooks, experience working in the nonprofit setting, and ability to work well with the administrative and program teams is required.
This is a part-time position for 30 hours/week. Below is a list of responsibilities and qualifications.
Candidates for this position will possess:
Compensation will be commensurate with the candidate’s previous experience and credentials. The Chef Ann Foundation is a great place to work and provides its staff with a competitive package including health insurance reimbursement, professional development, and paid time off.
Please submit a cover letter and resume, both of which should demonstrate your experience, qualifications, educational background, and your desire to fill this position, to Mara Fleishman, Chief Executive Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject title “CAF Accounting and Human Resources Manager”. The deadline to apply is December 6, 2017. Position is based in Boulder, CO and is available beginning December 11, 2017.]]>
Across the country, a committed team of school nutrition staff shows up in school kitchens to feed over 30 million students. Behind the scenes, team members plan menus and unload inventories. Their humble hands wash, chop, peel, mix, toss, and cook their way to providing healthy and nutritious food. They serve with a smile that marks the satisfaction of knowing they are fueling our future generation.
This task is not easy. Students have preferences that challenge school food service teams to craft healthy and appetizing meals that also meet nutritional standards and fall within program budgets. To help these teams and their school communities serve healthier foods and redefine lunchroom environments, Chef Ann Foundation provides tools, resources, and funds. To date, we’ve supported over 9,000 schools and 2.9 million children.
This Thanksgiving, let’s take a moment to be grateful for all the committed teams of school nutrition staff around the country who meet the challenges of preparing freshly made, whole foods to their students. To show you just how hard they work, we’ve compiled an all-star ensemble of school districts who are leading the way in school food reform through creative and collaborative approaches to change. Hop on, we’re on a school food tour around the nation!
First stop: Georgia. In Buford, just northeast of Atlanta, Director Megan Gower leads the Child Nutrition Department for Buford City Schools (BCS). Director Gower and her team feed 3,800 students, of which 37% are eligible for free and reduced priced meals. Director Gower planned a sequence of smaller changes throughout the 2016-2017 school year to make the big change to healthier and scratch-made food easier for students.
First, the BCS team removed the bad: no more packaged a la carte breakfast options, no more strawberry or vanilla flavored milk, and fewer products with high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. Then they flooded the food lines with delicious, freshly made foods, such as scratch-made Cheesy Lasagna and French Toast Casserole. Continuing with small changes that make a big impact, Director Gower will be placing salad bars in schools across the district so that students have even more access to healthy, fresh, whole foods. We applaud Director Gower’s strategy of sequencing changes to provide healthier foods at a healthy pace for students. Thank you, Director Gower and your dedicated team!
For our next all-star stop, we head up the coast to southern Maine, where Windham Raymond RSU #14 School Nutrition Program (RSU 14) serves 3,300 students in 6 schools. Lead by the strong vision of Director Jeanne Reilly and Chef Samantha Gasbarro, the district brings a big creativity game to promoting their meals and encouraging students to enjoy what they eat in school.
Cooking clubs, taste tests, and garden education top the list of key strategies used throughout the district to make sure that the school meals appeal to all students and get them thinking about what they eat and where it comes from. On “Try it Tuesdays,” students try new dishes and get to provide feedback to Chef Gasbarro. Some of the dishes students recently weighed in on include fresh fennel, quick pickles, and bahn mi sandwiches.
RSU 14 also recently doubled their breakfast participation with Fun Friday Breakfasts that feature yogurt parfaits, smoothies, and granola with themes like Super Bowl Friday, Teddy Bear Picnic, and Angry Bird Breakfast. Get inspired by and feel thankful for creative school lunch leaders like RSU 14 by following them on Facebook. Thank you, RSU 14 School Nutrition Program!
A very short ride later, our next stop is in New Hampshire. Oyster River Cooperative School District (ORCSD) serves 2,150 students in Durham with the help of an exceptional Director and a winning collaboration. Director Doris Demers and the ORCSD partnered with the University of New Hampshire (UNH) to procure fresh produce from the Thompson school’s greenhouse. UNH contributes microgreens, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, romaine, and kale to ORCSD school meals. Director Demers sometimes even drives the van herself to ensure students receive daily fresh and local produce options from their salad bars. She also does the extra work required to procure as many local ingredients as possible, including meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables. Chef Ann Foundation applauds the commitment Director Demers demonstrates, and we can all be grateful for her exemplary leadership. Thank you to the ORCSD team for being school food all-stars!
And now let’s hop on a plane and fly over Great Lakes to Boyne Falls Public Schools (BFPS) in Northern Michigan, where School Nutrition Director and Chef Nathan Bates serves 200 K-12 students. 60% of BFPS students are eligible for free or reduced cost school meals. Chef Bates demonstrates a deep commitment to procuring locally and cooking meals from scratch by adopting an “If they grow it, they will eat it,” philosophy.
BFPS students grow lettuce, tomatoes, and cabbage in the district hoop house, where they engage in experiential learning through composting, maintaining soil health, and observing the plant life cycle from seed to harvest. Chef Bates crafts delicious meals with their harvests. Like Director Demers at our last stop in NH, Chef Bates also goes above and beyond to procure as many local and organic ingredients as possible. He sources produce from farmers who deliver directly to the back door of the school kitchen!
Dishes from Chef Bates include student favorites Beef Stew with Homemade Focaccia Bread and Pork Carnitas with Chimichurri and Spanish Rice, both of which are exemplary meals for expanding tastes and encouraging a lifetime of healthy food choices. Chef Ann Foundation is grateful for school food leaders like Chef Bates of BFPS. Thank you, Chef Bates and the BFPS students who grow what they eat!
Taking to the skies one last time, we head west to Oxnard, California, where Ocean View School District (OVSD) keeps scratch-cooked food in the forefront as they prepare food for 2,700 students in four schools in a district with 79% free and reduced eligibility. Director Pamela Lee and her team began transitioning from heat and serve to freshly prepared foods in 2014 when Director Lee joined OVSD.
Director Lee set a goal to provide four scratch-made meals per week for OVSD students. So far, students are pleased, especially with the posole, a traditional Mexican stew made with hominy, pork or chicken, chilli peppers, and salsa. Students and staff also enjoy the freshly stocked salad bar every day. To get everyone excited about the salad bar, Director Lee took a very creative and collaborative approach: she enlisted the help of Food Corps and the Junior High Journalism Class to develop promotional materials, made for students, by students. Check out their short October Harvest of the Month promo video and you will want the yummy salads too.
And now we end by bringing our journey home to Colorado, where we send a big thank you to one of the nation’s leaders in school food reform: Chef Ann Cooper, Director of Food Services at Boulder Valley School District (BVSD). Chef Ann pushes the boundaries of what school food can and should be. Meals at BVSD feature organic white milk, daily salad bars, and scratch cooked entrees such as Greek Empanadas, Spanikopita Toasted Cheese Sandwich, and Chicken Street Tacos. As founder and President of the board at the Chef Ann Foundation, Chef Ann works tirelessly to share her knowledge and operational expertise with colleagues in other districts. Thank you, Chef Ann!
That concludes our all-star tour around the country to take a look at the dedicated teams who are shaping children’s palates towards healthier food choices for the rest of their lives.
Chef Ann Foundation understands the challenges to transitioning food operations from heat and serve to freshly prepared meals. We are grateful to all schools who have met this challenge and we are extra grateful for the all-stars who go above and beyond in their commitment to procuring local foods, encouraging healthier choices, increasing food literacy, and ensuring that every child has access to fresh, healthy food, every day. Without these leading schools, other schools might doubt that change can happen. It can, and it is!
Photos courtesy of Windham Raymond RSU #14 and Oyster River Cooperative School District.]]>