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.]]>
By: Laura Peuquet
In recent years consumer attitudes around the holidays have changed from what they used to be. Shoppers now look for great deals for buying gifts and great deals for giving to the causes we care about deeply. In addition to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we now have Giving Tuesday to encourage us to make charitable donations 24 hours after we’ve made our holiday purchases.
Today’s donors are giving more and are increasingly invested in the process of donating, from identifying which organizations to support, to making sure 100% of their donations go directly to the organizations. Social media is allowing us to make videos and share pictures to inspire others to donate. Giving Tuesday is a reflection of these shifting priorities and a genuine push towards building grassroots support for the causes and organizations people feel passionate about.
Tackling childhood diabetes, promoting social justice, and building our children’s futures are what the Chef Ann Foundation cares about most deeply. We believe every child should have access to healthy food every day, and here’s how the work we do creates lasting, positive change beyond the cafeteria:
As you plan your donations this giving season, here are a few ways to maximize your support:
Donations to Chef Ann Foundation last a lifetime. Your contributions will help schools around the nation serve healthier food to our children today, and ultimately help tomorrow’s adults live healthier, longer lives.
Donate to Chef Ann Foundation]]>
We serve over 30 million kids each day at school in cafeterias across the country. And while school food has made great strides in becoming healthier since the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, there is still a heavy reliance on processed foods in school lunches. The food we eat matters, especially for children who need the fuel from good food to grow and learn. One in three school aged children suffers from overweight and obesity, which puts kids at higher risk of a host of other health issues – from issues like high blood pressure, heart disease and asthma to depression and low self-esteem. And today, diabetes is one of the most chronic illnesses facing kids under 20. These are staggering statistics. And these diseases are diet-related. We know that something must change.
School food can be a major player in the battle against diet-related disease among kids. Over the course of a year, we serve more than 5 billion school lunches through the National School Lunch Program. If every one of those lunches was made from whole, fresh, healthy ingredients, imagine the impact on our kids’ diets, and ultimately, their health and wellbeing. But the reality is that changing school food is changing a system. School food has relied on processed foods for decades, largely due to financial and operational constraints that leave school kitchens without the ability to cook real food in schools. Challenges with kitchen equipment have been pervasive since the early 1980’s, when federal funding for kitchen equipment and facilities was first cut from school meal programs. And while federal equipment funding resurfaced in 2009, still today, less than half of school meal programs have adequate budgets for equipment, which pushes schools toward processed foods that don’t require specialized kitchen equipment or skilled labor to prepare. We can’t expect schools to make this change overnight.
That’s why the Chef Ann Foundation is launching School Food Institute (SFI). This video-based online educational series leverages Chef Ann Cooper’s extensive expertise in leading school food programs through a transition to serving whole, fresh, healthy foods to kids every day. Course topics cover everything necessary to make sustainable change to school food operations – recipes and menus, procurement, marketing and lunchroom education, finance, human resources, and even a course on strategic planning for making positive change. But what really makes the School Food Institute unique is the direct access to Chef Ann Cooper who, as the Director of Food Services for Boulder Valley School District in Colorado, knows firsthand what it means to transform school food programs.
Each course is taught through a lens of transitioning your school food operation to a scratch-cook model -- where processed chicken nuggets and tater tots are replaced by roasted chicken and potatoes cooked from fresh, whole ingredients. Throughout the course series, Chef Ann teaches how to work within regulatory and financial constraints to make scratch-cooking in schools a reality. Want to move away from serving frozen pizza and start making it from scratch? Chef Ann will lead you through a realistic transition plan to procure your ingredients and train your staff to make that pizza by hand. Want to know how to start shifting to antibiotic and hormone free beef without breaking the food budget? Chef Ann will tell you how you can prioritize ingredients and serve high quality food without affecting the bottom line.
In Chef Ann’s virtual classroom, school food service professionals learn the ins and outs of how to make real, sustainable change in school food programs. But School Food Institute is not just for school food service professionals. The coursework equips parents, administrators, and school nutrition advocates with practical knowledge about school food history, regulations, policy, and funding that will enable them to be informed advocates for healthier food in schools across the nation.
School Food Institute is much more than merely a series of videos. Chef Ann’s lectures come to life for participants with real-world assignments and learning activities that help them stretch their imaginations about school food operations and get feedback from their instructor and her teaching assistant. And discussion questions allow participants to learn from each other by sharing successes and challenges in school food change.
Participants can enroll in all eight courses in the series, or just in courses on the operational areas where they need professional development. The School Food Institute recognizes those who are truly invested through its certificate program. School Food Institute certificates are available at three levels – gold (complete the full series), silver (complete School Food 101 and four more courses of your choice), and bronze (complete School Food 101 and two more courses of your choice).
This is the only national certificate which recognizes the transition to scratch-cook operations in schools. A School Food Institute certificate gives professionals a competitive edge in the school food service industry and equips them with the knowledge, skills, and strategic vision to operate top-notch school meal programs and to make real change to support the health of our children.
Join the movement to make fresh, healthy food available to every child. Enroll in a School Food Institute course or certificate program today, and learn how you can start making changes to support healthier food in schools. Every child deserves real food that gives them fuel to thrive in school – and we as food service professionals and child nutrition advocates have a responsibility to make it happen.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Obesity
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Diabetes
American Heart Association
School Nutrition Association
The Pew Charitable Trusts]]>
We anticipate there will be 15-20 hours of work per week. Below is a list of responsibilities and qualifications:
This is a paid hourly position, $10/hour.
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 Meghan Brenner, Programs Director, at email@example.com with the subject title “CAF Research and Content Development Intern” by July 10, 2017. Position is based in Boulder, CO and is available immediately. This is a summer internship with the possibility of extending through fall 2017.
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I have always been a healthy eater — lots of leafy greens, limited meats with high amounts of saturated fat, sugar in moderation (except for my annual chocolate, caramel, and sea salt Whole Foods birthday cake which I eat straight from the box). When my son was born, I made all his food from fresh vegetables. When he got a little bigger, I baked super food muffins with quinoa, kale, and puréed white beans as a butter substitute.
So when I decided to compete in the Real School Food Challenge about a year ago, I thought I had it in the bag. I was working for a catering company and I spent so many hours in the kitchen making healthy meals, how hard could it really be?
In 2016, the Chef Ann Foundation created the Real School Food Challenge to educate people and communities about what it takes to create a healthy meal that meets stringent regulations for a measly $1.25.
The experience was intense. Lots of rules, little money, and somehow it must still be a crowd pleaser. I changed my concept at least 3 times (for those who know me well, you know that is one of my quicker decisions). The final recipe was then revised to meet the USDA requirements and substitutions were made to stay within budget.
Everyone loved my “breakfast for lunch” egg muffins in potato nests, with cream cheese and fresh strawberry-stuffed whole wheat French toast sticks…but clearly not enough. For a while I was quite bitter about losing. And then a year later, I find myself a winner.
I joined the Chef Ann Foundation team in December of 2016. Prior to the night of the inaugural Real School Food Challenge, I hadn’t given much thought to what my kids were eating at school. Mostly, I just thought it was awesome that I didn’t have to make lunch every morning. It made my life easier. But after my experience, I came to realize just how lucky I am to have Chef Ann Cooper working in Boulder, Colorado. She and her team make sure the students are eating fresh, real food every day and they actually cook that good food from scratch. And we're all lucky to have the Chef Ann Foundation to share Ann’s knowledge, resources and experience with the rest of the country.
When I joined the CAF team, I was blown away to learn that over 30 million children in this country eat school lunch every day, and even more astounding is the fact that 70% of them qualify for the free and reduced meal program. Unfortunately, the majority of schools across the country are still feeding children food “products” that come out of a package. Which begs the question:
How are children supposed to focus and learn in the classroom when their only source of fuel comes from chemicals and sugar?
As I have seen with my own children when they eat too much sugar, binge on pre-packaged snacks, or don’t get enough vitamins from fruits and vegetables, their behavior changes. For the worse.
Creating a school food recipe for the Real School Food Challenge was incredibly difficult, but it certainly wasn’t impossible. Our kids in Boulder are blessed to have Ann Cooper’s team making their school meals from scratch each day. There is incredible intention in the recipes they create to be sure our kids are not just eating healthy food now, but setting them up for a lifetime of well-developed palates and good eating habits. And if your child doesn’t happen to like what’s on the menu today, you are able to pack them a lunch of healthy, organic, allergen-free, hormone-free, gluten-free foods. Most kids in this country do not have that luxury. And that is why I have decided to pay it forward with my time, energy, and work. My mission is no longer just about my own family’s health, but that of the other 30 million children who are the future.
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