“School Food Superheroes” – Chef Ann Cooper Responds!

Recently a Lunch Tray reader asked a very basic question — how can one parent begin to change school food?  I responded to the reader in a series three posts:  Part One offered advice for bringing about change at the classroom level (e.g., teacher rewards and snacks); Part Two dealt with changing the school-wide food culture (fundraisers, wellness programs, etc.); and Part Three talked about change at the district level.

Now I’m yielding the floor to my personal school food “superheroes” —  Janet PoppendieckMrs. QChef Ann Cooper, Ed Bruske, and Dr. Susan Rubin — to get their thoughts.

Today, Chef Ann Cooper responds.  As most of you know, Chef Ann, aka “The Renegade Lunch Lady,” is a chef, author, educator and leading advocate for better school food for our children.  She’s the founder of the Food Family Farming Foundation (F3), the nonprofit behind The Lunch Box – a web portal that provides free and accessible tools, recipes and community connections to support school food reform.  For more information on Chef Ann, click here.

Chef Ann Cooper

My response to your “in the classroom” post:

I agree that PTAs & PTOs can help dictate school based decisions.  For a model wellness policy, click here.   Also, get like-minded parents together and go to the school’s board and let them know what’s happening. Often times they don’t realize what’s going on in individual schools.

In the school:

I agree that most actual change happens at the district level.  Here’s a link to add.  [This links to “What You Need to Know About School Lunch” from the Chez Panisse Foundation].  Salad Bars are another way to help change a single school’s food – check out www.saladbarproject.org.  Here’s a blog post you can use.  [This links to “A Salad Bar in Every School” from Chef Ann’s Lunch Box site.]

In the district:

It’s all about the school board – wellness policies and committees – but parents need to assert their authority.  The National School Lunch Act is up for reauthorization – check out this blog post.  [This links to an update on the child nutrition bill.]

And on the education front, another blog post.  [This links to a great piece by Ann herself on the troubling intersection between food manufacturers and the USDA commodity food program.]

Finally, here’s one more link to a video.  [This is a video on Chef Ann’s Lunch Box site called “Changing School Food for Parents and Advocates.”]


Ann Cooper

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As the rest of my team of school food reform experts respond, I’ll post their thoughts here.  In the meantime, thank you, Chef Ann for pointing us to these valuable links and resources!

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