1561619978 <![CDATA[Blog]]> http://athens.sierrabravo.net/~nguillou/f3/caf/ en Chef Ann Foundation Copyright 2019 2019-06-26T21:02:00+00:00 <![CDATA[The Chef Ann Team Taught Me Tenacity]]> Emily G http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/the-chef-ann-team-taught-me-tenacity/ http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/the-chef-ann-team-taught-me-tenacity/#When:21:02:00Z How One Parent Advocate Is Bringing Healthy Food to Her District

Jodie Lindsay Popma, of Smart Food Made Simple, with her sons Sam and Max.

By Georgina Rupp

Jodie Popma is a standout parent advocate in the healthy school food movement and a valued member of the community. Inspired to make a difference when she learned her son had a congenital digestive defect, Popma has been a mover and shaker for improving childhood nutrition ever since.

When she transitioned from a 16-year career at IBM to promote wellness full-time, reaching out to the Chef Ann Foundation (CAF) was a natural next step for Popma. She gained momentum right away when she received a CAF Project Produce grant for her school district, and hasn’t stopped since.

We spoke with Popma to learn more about how CAF helped launch her advocacy journey, the difference she’s made in St. Vrain Valley School District (SVVSD), and how she’s working with the community to pay it forward.

Why school food?

“When I had my second child in 2008, I learned that he had a congenital digestive defect,” Popma said. “My physician said he could not eat a standard American diet, so I started wondering about how children eat in this country and how I could make a difference.”

Connecting with CAF

Popma first learned about the Chef Ann Foundation when she decided to study holistic childhood nutrition in 2012. She purchased Chef Ann Cooper’s book, Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children, and was immediately hooked. 

“It made so much sense,” Popma reflected, “and I wanted to learn as much as I could as quickly as possible to help make a change in my home district.”

Popma works with SVVSD in Longmont, a town just outside of Boulder, Colorado. She is also involved with the Chef Ann Foundation supporting parent advocacy.

“I help other parents who need courage and empowerment to start something in their district,” she explained. “I am working with them to say, ‘You can do this.’ It's really about relationship-building and empowerment.”

Proudest accomplishment:

“My third year of Harvest Days when we did 13 events at five schools. Most of those schools have a high population receiving free and reduced lunch. It all comes down to empowering kids to make healthy decisions.”

She started the project by applying for Project Produce, the Chef Ann Foundation’s fruit and veggie grant program designed to create experiential nutrition education in the cafeteria. The program provides funds to support food costs to incorporate school-wide fruit and vegetable tastings into school nutrition programs. 

Once receiving and setting the Product Produce grant into motion, Popma set her attention on the district’s salad bars. “Even though [salad bars] were in the cafeterias, they were underutilized,” Popma reasoned. “I would ask the kids, ‘Why aren't you using it?’ and they’d say, ‘Well, I don't know how.’ They were a little intimidated by it.”

As a result, Popma gathered a team of volunteers to assist in teaching students how to use the salad bar. She also collaborated with the Boulder County Farmers Markets to bring fresh food to schools. By her third year, Popma had implemented the “Harvest Days” program at 13 separate events across five schools. The event included presentations on how featured produce is grown, from seed to harvest.

One tasting featured tomatoes of all different colors—purple, orange, yellow. Popma offered a child a tomato. His mother, who was visiting, replied for him: “He doesn’t like tomatoes.” Popma was amazed when, after explaining the purpose of Harvest Days as well as the sticker system for trying new bites, the child ate not just one tomato, but three!

“Making those kids feel like they are making choices on their own … is my biggest accomplishment,” Popma said.

Best advice you’ve been given:

“The biggest thing is relationships. You don't want to go in and ‘should’ all over people. Instead, you want to understand ‘where are they?’ Where are the gaps? And be helpful.”

Biggest challenge you’ve overcome:

“A big challenge is navigating through the school district and parents.”

More specifically, educating other parents is a challenge.

“They come in with their own conception of what school food should be. They don't know the rigor and process school districts have to follow to serve nutritious school food.”

Popma explained it’s important to know details like how many meals the district serves per day, what kind of kitchens they have (central, site-based, or a combination), and how many students are eligible for free and reduced price lunch. 

How has CAF influenced your work?

“Even though I’ve heard ‘no’ a lot in my district, the tenacity that the CAF team has taught me has empowered me to do more.”

Now, in addition to her work in SVVSD, Popma teaches nutrition to preschoolers, is involved with the Boulder County Farmers Markets, and works at a food pantry.

What’s next?

“I plan to continue working with under-resourced families in Boulder County and teaching parents how to make small changes to support better nutrition for their kids,” Popma said.

Her current project is the Farm to Table kid’s luncheon at the Boulder County Fair.

“As fair food is typically junk food, to be able to offer locally sourced, nutritious options will make a big difference for our community.”

The next big issue she plans to tackle? Supporting Michelle Obama’s school food efforts.

“The nutritional standards the Obama Administration put in place ensure students eat more nutrient-dense food at school. This is important because when kids eat food that feeds their whole body, their brains function optimally. Students learn better, teachers educate better, and we all benefit from this cycle.”

To Popma, all we can say is: Keep the momentum going!

Georgina Rupp is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Inspired to pursue writing by her appreciation for the community that gathers around good food, she comes to the Chef Ann team after three years teaching in public education. When she wasn't in the classroom, she spent her afternoons in the cafeteria kitchen alongside students who gained joy and inspiration from cooking nutritious meals. Georgina received her B.A. in Writing from Johns Hopkins University.

http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/the-chef-ann-team-taught-me-tenacity/#disqus_thread 2019-06-26T21:02:00+00:00
<![CDATA[We’re hiring!]]> Emily G http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/were-hiring/ http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/were-hiring/#When:22:55:00Z

The Chef Ann Foundation is looking for a Director of Development & Strategic Partnerships and a School Food Operations Contractor to join our team of dedicated professionals.

Learn more and apply by clicking on the following links:

http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/were-hiring/#disqus_thread 2019-05-28T22:55:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Bellingham Public Schools gets a good food makeover]]> Emily G http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/bellingham-public-schools-gets-a-good-food-makeover/ http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/bellingham-public-schools-gets-a-good-food-makeover/#When:15:47:00Z Scratch cooking, salad bars, local procurement and more moved this Washington school district toward fresher, healthier food for students

Two students enjoy Lummi Island Wild Salmon Cakes and Bluebird Grain Farms Farro Pilaf at the Shuksan Middle School Community Family Night. The pilaf includes tomatoes, cucumbers and onions and is lightly dressed with a vinaigrette.

By Georgina Rupp  

For Patrick Durgan, a focus on scratch-cooking practically came with the job. Soon after being appointed Director of Food Services and Executive Chef at Bellingham Public Schools (BPS), Durgan jumped feet-first into Get Schools Cooking (GSC), a 3-year program intensive dedicated to transitioning schools to scratch-cooking. The district's participation in the program was supported by the Whole Kids Foundation

Durgan traveled to Boulder, CO to join the 2017 GSC cohort for the program workshop March 16-17, 2017. This 3-day kick-off focuses on everything school districts need to know to start scratch-cooking, from procurement to accounting.

For Director Durgan, it was hugely beneficial to hear insights and gain perspective from experienced players in the school food movement, like Beth Collins and Chef Ann Cooper.

“It was great to have Ann to say, ‘Yeah, you can expect that,’ or ‘This is where you should be,’” he shared. "What I took away from it is that [implementing scratch cooking] is really hard.”

Through the GSC training, Director Durgan learned how to grab easy wins in the transition and about inevitable challenges he would face. For example, when cafeterias remove the high-fat, high-sugar foods that kids love, there can be a dip in participation, he explained, but once schools refine new recipes using student feedback, the system begins to work.

In his own words, simply put, "This isn't going to happen overnight."

The Work Begins

Transitioning to a scratch cooking model takes effort and time. Get Schools Cooking is a three year program, and, by next school year, cafeterias in the Bellingham, Washington district will be scratch cooking up to 30% of the food served to kids.

BPS is also shifting to a centralized production model—the model that Chef Ann recommends most often. The centralized model fits BPS’ need to streamline processes and production. The district originally used four production sites, each with different storage, infrastructure, and cooking capacity. The district has since reduced its production sites to three, but the central kitchen will undoubtedly be a game-changer.

"I think a lot of what we were doing was waiting … for the central kitchen to be built. We didn't have the infrastructure to jump into scratch cooking development."

Rather than wait until the kitchen is complete, Director Durgan has spent much of the last two years setting the stage for the major changes to come. His marketing efforts have centered on engaging the community around the new food system and implementing small changes, a few at a time, to get kids on board.

Thinking Local Food

Mataio Gillis shares a sampler of locally sourced items, including Bluebird Grain farro salad with blueberries and salmon, at the DJ Cavem Eco-Hip Hop community event in March at Options High School.

"As we started changing our infrastructure and our menus a little bit, we learned it didn't work to change the menu drastically for kids,” Director Durgan explained.

Prior to its scratch cooking transition, the Bellingham school kitchens served pre-formed chicken breasts, which were processed but consistent portion sizes. Once the district began partnering with local farms, they could offer local chicken breast but now struggled with maintaining portions. In order to continue serving a similar chicken dish without the challenge of uneven portions, Director Durgan oversaw the transition to using pulled chicken in recipes.

Pulled chicken began replacing the pre-formed patties in dishes like chicken tacos or barbecue chicken sandwiches. Director Durgan explained that this meant “once we got into scratch production, kids wouldn't see a lot of change.”

Additionally, BPS is committed to supporting the local food economy, which means selecting ingredients from local farmers when possible. Next year, BPS will add salmon cakes to the mix, supporting local fishermen and using wild salmon from the nearby Puget Sound.

“When we can put a face to a carrot or a piece of broccoli, we can convince kids to try it. Plus it's fresher!” Durgan remarked.

The Road Ahead

Patrick and Mataio show off the visioning board they’re using to plan out menu options. Look closely: Bluebird Grain Farms is in the gold box in the middle!

Overall, Director Durgan says the community is enthusiastic about the improvements to school food.

About 33% of students in BPS qualify for free or reduced lunch, and about 18% of students pay for school lunch. Director Durgan expects to see the latter number rise as the district transitions more and more to healthy, scratch cooking— just as participation increased when they introduced salad bars two years ago.

"Since we've started making some of these changes, starting some of our scratch recipe testing and getting that out to kids… the response has been positive,” he said. "Kids are really savvy. They know what foods they like. Every kid in our district knows what quinoa is."

Quinoa, really? Yes, BPS has been partnering with food education groups for seven years now. From these programs, kids learn to take “adventure bites” and “not yuck someone’s yum.” Director Durgan noted that having this food education piece has been critical to gaining traction.

“If we can start food education at a young age and fight the stigma about who eats what, [we’ll] be able to share differences over food, [which] is a really important thing globally. No matter who we are or where we come from, we need food,” Director Durgan said.

As BPS experienced, school food change can take time—but with hard work and perseverance, big results centered on healthy fresh food can happen.

For more information on the Chef Ann Foundation’s Get Schools Cooking program, click here. Grant applications will re-open this August—stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our newsletters to ensure you don’t miss out!

Georgina Rupp is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Inspired to pursue writing by her appreciation for the community that gathers around good food, she comes to the Chef Ann team after three years teaching in public education. When she wasn't in the classroom, she spent her afternoons in the cafeteria kitchen alongside students who gained joy and inspiration from cooking nutritious meals. Georgina received her B.A. in Writing from Johns Hopkins University.

http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/bellingham-public-schools-gets-a-good-food-makeover/#disqus_thread 2019-05-23T15:47:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Is your district considering a salad bar?]]> Emily G http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/is-your-district-considering-a-salad-bar/ http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/is-your-district-considering-a-salad-bar/#When:22:57:00Z

This blog has been republished with the permission of Salad Bars to Schools

A salad bar incorporated into a school meal program can be one of the best ways to increase healthy eating habits and fresh fruit and vegetable consumption. It can also allow for increased learning potential for both students and food service staff. If your school is interested in procuring a salad bar or applying for a salad bar grant through the Salad Bars to Schools program, this article will guide you through some key factors to successful salad bar implementation. All the resources and information in this article can be found on The Lunch Box.

Adequate preparation for launch is essential to successfully implementing a salad bar program. There are several tools available to help you with this process. The Salad Bar Site Assessment is a downloadable and customizable tool that can be accessed on The Lunch Box. It walks you through evaluating labor, which equipment may be best for your districts, and regulations. It will help you identify specific challenges and assets per school site, and will help in creating a realistic budget, timeline and implementation strategy moving forward. Some of the things that the site assessment will help you consider are:

  • Operation Models
  • Age groups served and ADP
  • Prep and Storage space
  • Location and flexibility of the POS
  • Line speed adjustments with the current model
  • Vendor relationships

It’s not realistic for us to generalize what one district can or cannot support, but a good strategy is to be accountable for the changes ahead of time, track new program costs and adjust accordingly. A common misconception is that a salad bar will require more labor than a district’s current model of operation. Salad bar labor requirements can often be met by shifting the tasks and times of the existing team, and evaluating your current hotline service to accommodate your new equipment. We have editable example templates to run through different salad bar well arrangements. Working with your team prior to launch will help familiarize everyone with your plan going forward.

Getting students accustomed to using the salad bar is another crucial piece to successful salad bar implementation. Salad bars are an excellent way to engage the community around fresh and healthy diets and have the potential to influence healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime. Therefore, marketing your bar before, during and after your implementation will support the long term success of your bar, and will allow for an easier transition in the cafeteria. The Lunch Box has free downloadable posters and signs for your district to utilize around the cafeteria and on your salad bar. Adopting regular and robust cafeteria education could prove to engage your students in new ways, and interest them in participating in school food lunches.

Some examples that we have seen the most success with are rainbow days and harvest days. On Rainbow days, students are asked to create a rainbow with three or more fruits and vegetables on their tray. Once they finish eating their creations, they receive a sticker or other small reward. Check out this link to see a full How To for successful Rainbow Day implementation. The Lunch Box has many additional resources to help you navigate lunchtime nutrition education, with downloadable volunteer resources, flyers, sticker templates and more.

With all of these resources in your back pocket, you will be ready for your fresh and nutritious salad bar. The Salad Bars to Schools program is a simple and straightforward application that has the potential to fund one or all of the bars for your district. Complete your application today and check out all the available salad bar resources on The Lunch Box!

http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/is-your-district-considering-a-salad-bar/#disqus_thread 2019-05-07T22:57:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Become a Member Today & Impact Children’s Health for a Lifetime]]> Emily G http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/become-a-member-today-impact-childrens-health-for-a-lifetime/ http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/become-a-member-today-impact-childrens-health-for-a-lifetime/#When:14:59:00Z


We’re celebrating so many achievements for our 10-year anniversary, and that includes celebrating people dedicated to our mission. We’ve been fortunate to have your support for a decade, and we’ve been able to make some real change in schools. However, our work is needed now more than ever.

We are working to repair a broken system, and it is not a quick fix. This is a continuous uphill battle, both legislatively (did you hear about the recent rollbacks to the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act?) and operationally (like getting buy-in from every level of a school district to invest in making big changes, when it’s far easier to stick with status quo).

Our new membership program will help expand and develop the next 10 years of school food reform. Joining as a member helps us plan for long-term programs, which means we can keep moving the needle forward on school food change.

“We know people are thankful for our work; we get notes and messages all the time about how our work has enabled their child or school to serve and eat fresh, healthier food,” says Mara Fleishman, CEO of the Chef Ann Foundation. “Membership provides an opportunity for our family of advocates to join in monthly to help us reach more schools.”

As thanks for contributing to our mission, we want to share a special curated culinary gift from Chef Ann; we hope you enjoy a few of her favorite things in your own kitchen, and remember the impact you are making on the health of children in our country.

Looking to the future, your membership impacts more than children in school today, but includes every generation thereafter. This membership program supports our future and our children’s future (and includes tools to cook healthy meals with your family for years to come). As always, thank you for fueling the healthy school food movement!

Sign up to become a member today!

http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/become-a-member-today-impact-childrens-health-for-a-lifetime/#disqus_thread 2019-05-01T14:59:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Chef Ann Foundation welcomes school administration veteran to the team]]> Emily G http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/chef-ann-foundation-welcomes-school-administration-veteran-to-the-team/ http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/chef-ann-foundation-welcomes-school-administration-veteran-to-the-team/#When:23:38:00Z Leslie Stafford worked with Boulder Valley School District for 20 years—now, she’s on a mission to help transform school food nationwide. Here, she offers her advice for school administrators and debunks some of the most popular myths about changing school food.

The Chef Ann Foundation is excited to welcome Leslie Stafford to the team as our new Director of Accounting and Human Resources. As CEO Mara Fleishman puts it, Leslie is a “dream team member” to support our mission of healthier school food.

Over her 20-year span working in Boulder Valley School District (BVSD), Leslie wore many hats, including Director of Finance and Accounting, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and finally Chief Operating Officer (COO).

“Leslie has a unique understanding of what it takes to move a school district to cook-from-scratch, especially in finance and HR,” says Fleishman of Stafford’s experience. “She will be a great advocate for other district leaders that are curious about what it takes to make the transition.”

BVSD’s Transition to Scratch Cooking and a Central Kitchen

When Stafford started at BVSD, school meals were far from scratch-cooked. Most meals were frozen or processed, and chocolate milk was all the rage. Stafford, a mom to two boys in the BVSD system, was concerned about the quality and nutrition of what they were eating. “I wanted them to eat a ‘hot lunch’ that they liked, and that I thought was healthy,” Stafford recounts.

During her tenure at BVSD, she was assigned supervision of the district’s food services operations. She held meetings with a group of concerned parents—one of whom was Mara Fleishman. The school board president and superintendent at the time were supportive of proposed changes to the school food program and subsequently hired Chef Ann Cooper and Beth Collins, of Lunch Lessons LLC, to conduct a feasibility study and create a five-year plan to move the district toward scratch cooking.

Soon after, Stafford hired Chef Ann as BVSD’s Food Services Director to implement healthy changes and start the process of building a central kitchen. Ten years later, that vision is becoming a reality, by breaking ground on a new facility just weeks ago.

BVSD currently operates with three main production kitchens, but a central kitchen has been the goal for years. While some districts work with several production kitchens or a kitchen in each school, for BVSD, scratch-cooking in a centralized environment is arguably the most efficient and cost-effective model. A few years ago, the district passed a bond that included funding for a central kitchen, and the building is finally under construction. It is scheduled to be up and running for the start of the 2020 school year.

“Supporting the district food service operations was one of my favorite and most rewarding parts of my job as COO,” Stafford says of her time at BVSD. Fortuitously, a CAF position opened up earlier this year that matched her interests, passion, and experience. “I was ready for a new challenge and am excited to work with the CAF team on improving school food on a national level.”

Advice for School District Administrators

Transitioning to a scratch-cooked school food operation can often seem like a daunting task to administrators and staff alike, but the impact is worth it. As COO of a school district, Stafford was always looking at ways to better support education. “The impact of food is not always considered,” she says. “From my perspective, kids can’t learn if they are not well fed.” In transitioning BVSD to healthier school food, Stafford encouraged her peers to consider this as they looked at areas for reform.

Having worked for a school district for 20 years, Stafford understands many of the challenges district administrators face. “Change can be hard in school districts, but with good planning and support, it can happen,” she says.

Below are a few of Stafford’s recommendations for what school officials like COOs and CFOs need to know:

  • Evaluate your district’s facility and equipment needs, and where capital funds will come from.

Knowing your district’s needs is key to transitioning to scratch cooking. Is there money available in the food service fund, or are there capital reserve funds to dip into? Consider grants for capital improvements, too. “It depends on the student population, but if you can create a central kitchen, it will almost always be more efficient,” Stafford says.

  • What is your staff’s skill set? What kind of professional training will they need for your district to transition to scratch cooking?

In some cases, school food staff may need ServSafe training, knife skills, pre-employment math testing, and the ability to meet “fit for duty” requirements (such as lifting heavy equipment and boxes up to 50 lbs). “The challenge is that food service employees are often paid the least among school district employees, so there’s a lot of turnover,” Stafford says."Providing appropriate training and professional development is crucial for retaining a high quality food service team."

  • Support and cooperation from school administration, the school board, and the community (including students, parents, and employees) is helpful and often necessary.

Gather and listen to feedback. Chef Ann conducts surveys to find out which menu items students and parents like best, and regular tastings to pique kids’ interest in trying new things. “Many school districts are within diverse communities, with different wants and needs,” Stafford says. “ It’s important to create menu items that are appealing district-wide.” Being responsive to the community, she adds, is also important.

Debunking School Food Myths

Stafford also wants to debunk some of the myths that administrators may have about school food.

  • “You can’t put salad bars in schools.”

“One of the first things people always say is that it’s not sanitary and little kids can’t use them,” Stafford says. Contrary to this popular belief, she has witnessed the implementation and success of salad bars in every BVSD school. “They’re a great way to provide alternative menu items for our vegetarians and students with food allergies.”

  • “High school students won’t eat hot lunch.”

“While it can be tough with open campuses, many district high school students (including my own!) eat hot lunch daily. Trying new things like a food truck can help increase participation.”

  • “Students won’t eat chicken on a bone.”

Stafford heard this one when the BVSD began its transition from processed heat-and-serve to healthier school food. “Parents said their kids would only eat chicken nuggets, but roasted chicken on the bone continues to be a very popular menu item.”

What’s Next?

Twenty years ago, Stafford could only dream that BVSD’s food program would look like it does today. Now, with a central kitchen underway and more changes to come, the district’s 30,000 students can continue to look forward to healthy, scratch-cooked food at school. By bringing 20+ years of school administration and food experience to the CAF team, Stafford hopes to facilitate the same kind of impact on school food across the country.

http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/chef-ann-foundation-welcomes-school-administration-veteran-to-the-team/#disqus_thread 2019-04-24T23:38:00+00:00
<![CDATA[A Teacher’s Perspective on School Food Reform]]> Emily G http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/a-teachers-perspective-on-school-food-reform/ http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/a-teachers-perspective-on-school-food-reform/#When:22:34:00Z Teacher Jeff Murrie has helped spearhead a good food revolution at Briggs Elementary. Here's his story.

A Teacher with a Mission

Jeff Murrie’s class at Briggs Elementary is one of a kind. All sixth grade students at the Florence, South Carolina school participate in his “Farm to School Related Arts” class, an agriculture education with hands-on learning that covers everything from pollination to in-classroom tastings. Murrie is a great example of how members of the school community outside of food services can make a real difference in what kids eat and how they learn about food.

Murrie’s work with food-focused programming started in 2015, when Briggs received a grant to start a school farm with support from the South Carolina Department of Education and the USDA. Murrie managed the farm from the start and eventually created the Farm to School class, weaving the farm and its produce into the curriculum.

In the Farm to School class, students learn about bees and other pollinators, soil sampling, wool, and micro greens. They’ve sampled eggplant, kale, and mushrooms in the classroom and used an apple press to make and sample fresh grape juice. These days, the school farm spans two gardens, a composting station, a poultry facility (for collecting eggs), and a small greenhouse. Most of the produce grown in the garden goes straight to the classroom.

"[I’ve] taken my interest and love and passion—what I’ve been doing at home, for fun—and taken it to school," says Murrie.

As with many veteran teachers – Murrie taught social studies for over 20 years before the recent change – his work is meaningful, both to him personally and to his students. “Hopefully [these experiences] will impact them for the rest of their lives,” he says. Parents are also supportive of Murrie’s Farm to School class. "Most parents really value what they see [happening in the classroom].”

Seeking Answers and Making Changes

While Murrie’s interest in agriculture and sustainability runs deep, his interest in school food started to grow after a trip to Shelburne Farms last summer. Murrie completed the Cultivating Joy and Wonder for Early Learners course in Shelburne, Vermont and saw an abundance of healthy, organic foods being served. He thought, "there is something that has got to be better for these kids… We have to move them up academically, but we keep feeding them [unhealthy food].” He decided to take what he’d learned and make some changes at his school.

Back in Florence, Murrie began searching for salad bar grants and stumbled across the Salad Bars to Schools (SB2S) program and the Chef Ann Foundation. Inspired by SB2S, Murrie worked with the superintendent to purchase a Cambro salad bar with existing funds. The school now uses the bar to serve yogurt at breakfast – a real success for Murrie, especially after he introduced students to homemade yogurt during a classroom taste test.

But Murrie was still looking for more answers about the state of school food and what he could do to change things at Briggs. To learn more, he returned to the Chef Ann Foundation as a resource and registered for a selection of School Food Institute courses.

While Murrie prefers to take big steps, he’s embracing one of Chef Ann’s key messages: baby steps are instrumental to improving school meals. “I realized what we’re trying to do here really does take a lot of tiny steps. Tiny baby steps with lots of planning and thought. Isn’t that a lot better than taking haphazard giant leaps?”

Murrie’s other key takeaways from the courses include ideas for increasing sustainability in the lunchroom and highlighting the importance of recipe tasting to develop kids’ palettes—something he has already instituted in his classroom.

The lunchroom at Briggs has started to see some changes, and Murrie has shared resources with the food service department to help implement a healthier and more sustainable meal program. The school has removed Styrofoam trays and now serves meals on reusable trays, a tactic covered in the SFI Sustainable Lunchrooms course. Reusable bowls are available at the yogurt bar, and the addition of reusable cups enables students to use the new filtered water station. Fruit is no longer individually wrapped; students use tongs to serve themselves. Murrie also hopes to introduce a bulk milk dispenser to reduce waste from milk cartons.

Murrie says that the key for teachers inspired to get involved in Farm to School programs or improve their school’s food is simple: passion.

“If it is your passion,” Murray says, whether agricultural or nutritional in nature, “it is unjust not to educate yourself and bring change to [the lives of] your students, parents, and faculty. It’s got to be your passion—not your job.”

Apply for a Salad Bars to Schools grant or enroll in the School Food Institute today! To learn more about these and other programs, visit chefannfoundation.org/programs-and-grants.

http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/a-teachers-perspective-on-school-food-reform/#disqus_thread 2019-04-19T22:34:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Reinventing Healthy Eating with Salad Bars to Schools]]> Emily G http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/reinventing-healthy-eating-with-salad-bars-to-schools/ http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/reinventing-healthy-eating-with-salad-bars-to-schools/#When:17:29:00Z Learn how this nutrition services director leveraged the Salad Bars to Schools program to get kids excited about eating healthy

Are you passionate about real food in schools? If so, you can help by supporting the Chef Ann Foundation—click here!



By Georgina Rupp

Director of Child Nutrition Services Jamie Phillips is not new to school salad bars, and it shows. Having already implemented his first salad bar program while at Upland Unified School District (USSD), Phillips wasted no time in applying for the Salad Bars to Schools program at his new district, Vista Unified (located in Vista, California). By leveraging the grant and new salad bars as a cohesive program, he established a crucial base for reinventing the way kids in his district view healthy eating.

Since implementing the salad bars in August 2017, Phillips has seen a tremendous impact on what children are eating.

"The biggest change is that, while all kids go through the lunch line, we have more kids taking items from the salad bar," Phillips said. He added that since they've upgraded from the old salad bars with cracked glass to sleek, brushed aluminum equipment, kids have been more likely to choose vegetables.

It's not just the physical salad bars that have changed kids' minds, though. Phillips’ program has launched other initiatives throughout the district that promote healthy eating to students. Classrooms now include lessons on how to create a "rainbow-colored" tray filled with fruits and vegetables, and the Harvest of the Month program features one special fruit or vegetable for kids to see and taste.

Gardening has also been a transformative part of their program. Vista Unified holds school garden classes in which kids grow all the produce," Phillips shared. From the garden, the fruits & vegetables go to the salad bar for the next lunch. Phillips often “pays” fair market value for all the produce, and the proceeds go right back into the garden program, which has proven highly successful.

"Our high school students at Vista High donated over 100 pounds of romaine lettuce, so they are interested in coming back to eat it," Phillips noted, indicating the excitement  of student-grown nourishment.

Younger children are invested, too. Elementary schools hold farmers' markets at which students can purchase two school-dollars’ worth of produce. One school's mascot is the Panther, so students there pay in "Panther Bucks."

As a whole, Vista Unified School District (VUSD) has embraced the Farm-to-School mission. The cafeteria program partners with nearby farms to serve local produce and engage the community.

In the 2017-18 school year, VUSD's produce included over 75,000 lbs of California-based foods; as of February 2019, the district had already reached 144,000 lbs of local produce, staying on track to hit 175,000 lbs by the end of the year.

Working with small, local farmers requires extra work, but Phillips says it is worth it. The district works with 60 different farmers, some of whom only have a few acres of land. To help streamline the process, farmers deliver all of their produce to one central location, from which the district allocates out to schools.

Coordinating that many vendors into agreement is not easy. Most school food contracts include language that excludes farmers, and many farmers are hesitant to partner with schools due to the food regulations and requirements for delivery without contingency. To better embrace local procurement, VUSD drew up new contracts to offer more flexibility to farmers; if one farmer can't provide produce at a given time, the district will go to another farmer on the list.

"We want to work with farmers," Phillips said. "Our kids—their parents are working at these farms. We want to support the community."

All of this community coordination is possible with the district’s salad bars and their ability to serve a wide range of fresh and local produce. The program has also piqued parents’ interest. Phillips sends out a monthly newsletter offering kitchen tours and surveys to gauge awareness of the Farm-to-School and salad bar efforts. An elementary school survey this fall revealed that, of 195 responses, 95.7% were aware of their Farm-to-School salad bar.

"In the two and a half years I've been here, I've thrown a lot on my employees," Phillips acknowledged. "I am constantly trying to improve our farm-to-school programs. It wouldn't be possible without their support and dedication."

For VUSD, working towards food equity doesn't stop here—reducing food waste is another priority on Phillips’ list. He’s implementing share tables in the cafeteria in order to donate leftover food to food banks in the area.

"School food is critical," he said. "The food we are putting in our kids' bodies is a reflection of them. Our kids are going to be our future, realistically taking care of us some day. We need them to grow up healthy and take care of themselves. Hopefully, they can learn healthy habits at a young age and see the benefits of that long term."

For more information on the Salad Bars To Schools program, and to apply for a grant in your district, visit saladbars2schools.org today.

Are you passionate about real food in schools? If so, you can help by supporting the Chef Ann Foundation—click here!



Georgina Rupp is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Inspired to pursue writing by her appreciation for the community that gathers around good food, she comes to the Chef Ann team after three years teaching in public education. When she wasn't in the classroom, she spent her afternoons in the cafeteria kitchen alongside students who gained joy and inspiration from cooking nutritious meals. Georgina received her B.A. in Writing from Johns Hopkins University.

http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/reinventing-healthy-eating-with-salad-bars-to-schools/#disqus_thread 2019-04-03T17:29:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Creative Marketing Sparks Salad Bar Popularity]]> Emily G http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/creative-marketing-sparks-salad-bar-popularity/ http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/creative-marketing-sparks-salad-bar-popularity/#When:19:23:00Z  


This blog has been republished with the permission of Salad Bars to Schools

Kristen Mcguan’s creative spirit shines through the East Grand School District salad bar program where she has been Food Service Director for the past 3 years. Her favorite part about the program is when she sees students take ideas from the bars home. When kale chips and jicama sticks were introduced to the bar, Director Mcguan received calls from parents asking about recipes for these healthy treats, and she admits that due to high demand it can be difficult to keep enough kale on the bar for students.


East Grand School District, Granby CO

Enrollment: 1350 students

Free and Reduced Rate: 38%

Average Daily Participation: 41%


As a K-12 district, East Grand has to take certain measures to be sure that their younger students understand how to use the bar appropriately. On the first day of school each year, the kindergarteners come down to the cafeteria and learn about how to move through the bar and what to take. Next, the students do a dry run through the bar, and then another dry run the next day to be sure that the students are ready to make the most out of their experience. The first and second graders at East Grand also come down on the first day of school for a quick refresher on how to move through the bar efficiently. Director Mcguan says that as a result of this process, the line speed in the lunchroom is the same as before they had a bar.

Along with their quick lines, the food service team at East Grand works hard to keep parents involved in the school lunch program. Director Mcguan says that the superintendent at East Grand, Frank Reeves, does a great job of keeping staff and parents informed. Newsletters were sent out to parents to inform them about the arrival of new bars. But their involvement with the school lunch program and the new salad bars did not stop there.


Along with being the Food Service Director at East Grand School District, Director Mcguan is also part of the district health committee. The committee decided they wanted to involve parents more actively in the school lunch program, so they devised a Picnic with Parents Program coming soon to all schools. As a parent herself, Director Mcguan knows that parents don’t love coming to school events after normal work hours. So, the Picnic with Parents program invites parents to come to East Grand schools during the day for a “picnic lunch” incorporating the salad bar and some physical activity. Parents come at lunchtime, grab a brown bag lunch with their children, head through the salad bar line, then sit and eat at tables decorated with traditional white and red checked tablecloths. The “picnic” is followed by recess-exercise led by the physical education department. Since East Grand is located in the snowy mountains of Colorado, past activities have included things like snowshoeing or snowman building contests.

As for marketing the bars at East Grand School District, Director Mcguan takes a special approach to getting kids and teens excited about what the salad bar has to offer. On special occasions, East Grand provides “holiday bars” that color coordinate with the occasion. On Halloween, the bar is decked with clementines, carrots, and whole grain goldfish. Valentines Day? Strawberries and apples. But the creativity doesn’t stop there. East Grand uses punny bulletin boards in their lunchrooms that incorporate kids characters, such as one board that says “There are a *MINION* and one reasons to love school lunch!” with the popular characters drawn below. Students are encouraged to add a little note of their favorite part of the salad bar onto the board. Director Mcguan’s creativity and passion around each of these ideas has led to great salad bar success in the East Grand School District.

http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/creative-marketing-sparks-salad-bar-popularity/#disqus_thread 2019-02-27T19:23:00+00:00
<![CDATA[School Food Institute chosen in acclaimed program]]> Emily G http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/school-food-institute-chosen-in-acclaimed-program/ http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/school-food-institute-chosen-in-acclaimed-program/#When:01:04:00Z Chef Ann Foundation working with FS6, a food-system focused accelerator program


BOULDER, COLORADO (February 21, 2019) — The Chef Ann Foundation is excited to announce its participation in the Food System 6 (FS6) innovation accelerator, a 16-week program where they will focus on the School Food Institute (SFI) and general CAF mission.

Alongside five other organizations, CAF will work with experts across the food, agriculture, and investment industries to focus on building expertise in business growth, brand development, and the impact investment landscape.

This cohort program combines personalized business and organizational development skills with a broad understanding of the food system. Through their curriculum, FS6 is focused on scaling early-stage changemakers and entrepreneurs who are tackling the major challenges associated with our current model of food production and distribution, in order to build a more regenerative system.

Earlier this month, CEO Mara Fleishman and Director of Online Programs Danielle Eliser flew to California for the first of three in-person sessions in the Bay Area.

“We’re so excited to join the FS6 team,” said Mara Fleishman.”Traditionally, accelerator programs have focused on tech start-ups; using this model to springboard sustainable food and agriculture initiatives is brilliant.”

The School Food Institute (SFI), CAF’s online learning program, is dedicated to scratch-cooking in schools. The online courses leverage Chef Ann’s extensive experience in transitioning school food programs to cook-from-scratch, serving whole, fresh, healthy food to kids. SFI offers a variety of operational subjects, ranging from procurement to salad bars.

The FS6 Program supports 6-10 organizations in each cohort, each of which is selected through a rigorous process that takes into consideration the transformative impact potential, economic viability, and diversity of ideas of applicants. Aside from the sessions, the program includes 16 weeks of 1:1 custom work plan execution and 2-3 years of ongoing executive support.

“The world is in need of a major shift in the food ecosystem - from the systems for production, distribution, and education to the products available in the marketplace,” said Renske Lynde, Co-Founder and CEO of FS6. “The FS6 accelerator exists to provide support infrastructure to the innovators who are leading the charge and transforming the industry for the better. This fourth cohort represents a range of talented, systems-minded trailblazers and we are thrilled to be able to introduce them into our incredible community of partners and supporters.”

More information about the FS6 program and more information about the other members of Cohort 4 can be found at FoodSystem6.org.


Chef Ann Foundation is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to providing school communities with the tools, training, resources, and funding to help transition their food programs from highly-processed to cook-from-scratch operations. Founded in 2009, the Chef Ann Foundation is celebrating its 10th year of working towards better nutrition for kids. The School Food Institute (SFI) is an online learning platform dedicated to scratch-cook school food, more info at schoolfoodinstitute.org.


Food System 6™ (FS6) is an innovative non-profit based in the San Francisco Bay Area whose mission is to support the world’s most promising entrepreneurs as they transform how we grow, produce and distribute food. FS6 runs a comprehensive accelerator program that includes a wide range of business and organizational support designed to help entrepreneurs accelerate their growth and their impact. FS6 brings these innovators together with the mentors, networks, diverse forms of capital, capacity building, tailored support and technical assistance needed to further prove their concept, build their ability to scale, and maximize their success. FS6 has executed three cohorts with 23 companies, of which 17 are for-profit and 6 are non-profit. Additional information on the current FS6 portfolio can be found here.

http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/school-food-institute-chosen-in-acclaimed-program/#disqus_thread 2019-02-21T01:04:00+00:00