School Food Institute








What is School Food Institute?

School Food Institute (SFI) is a set of online courses that provide professional development and comprehensive training on the key components of successful scratch-cook operations in schools.

Program Goals

  • Train school food service professionals on the best practices for scratch-cook operations
  • Provide an in-depth professional development opportunity focused on scratch cooking that satisfies annual training requirements for school food service professionals
  • Equip parents, administrators, and school nutrition advocates with practical knowledge about school food operations, history, regulations, policy, and funding that will enable them to be informed advocates for healthier school food

Program Overview

Taught by Chef Ann Cooper - internationally recognized author, chef, educator, public speaker, and advocate of healthy food for all children - SFIoffers a series of video-based online courses covering key operational areas of school food. 

SFI courses include:

  • Engaging lectures that let you learn at your own pace
  • Real-world assignments and learning activities
  • Guest lectures from topic experts in school food
  • Supplemental resources for more exploration
  • Office hours with Chef Ann
  • Optional Certificate Program

Course Offerings:

School Food 101 - Our most popular course and a perfect introduction to school food. Learn about school food history, regulations, policy, and funding. Beneficial for new school food professionals, food organizations and nonprofits, healthy food advocates, and anyone looking to learn more about healthier food in schools.

Mission, Vision and Strategic Planning - Follow an expert through the process of planning for systemic, sustainable change in school meal programs.

School Food Operational Models - Learn how each operational model affects the food on the lunch tray, and untangle the complicated web of school food operations.

School Food Finance - Walk through the revenues and expenses involved in school meal programs. Includes an explanation of fundamental tools to track financials throughout the year, and how to develop an annual and multi-year budget for a program.

Recipes and Menu Development - Discover why recipes are vital for sustainable scratch-cooking, what makes a good recipe for school food, and how to incrementally transition popular menu items to scratch-cook.

School Food Procurement - Find out why procurement is so important in school food, and how to align procurement practices with the mission and vision of the meal program.

Salad Bars in Schools - An in-depth look at planning and assessment for salad bar implementation, as well as the complex operational issues of recipe development, production records, and procurement.

Marketing and Lunchroom Education -  Engage students and school communities with clever, attractive marketing tactics and lunchroom education events.

Sustainable Lunchrooms - Looking to go green? Learn more about the ever-increasing importance of reducing environmental impact, as well as achievable tactics to create a sustainable school food program.

Plant Forward - Discover the health, environmental, and financial benefits of eating plant-based proteins. Also learn how to serve more plant forward meals in your school.

Ingredients for Healthier Kids - Not all ingredients are created equal. Find out which common unhealthy ingredients are sneaking into our food, and learn how to reduce and eliminate them from school menus.

Program Impact

Between SFI’s launch in the fall of 2017 and the start of the 2019-2020 school year, 223 students have enrolled in 939 course seats.

The most valuable thing I learned were the basics of how food service works in schools, and what laws and regulations control how things are made and reported. — SFI Student

The School Food Institute courses have been the backbone to our work as a Foundation to support schools who are transitioning from heat and serve to healthy, freshly prepared school meals.  — SFI Student

How to Enroll

Visit the School Food Institute website to learn more and enroll in courses.

Please contact with any questions.

School Food Institute in the News

Thank you to the Colorado Health Foundation for their Support!