The mission of the Chef Ann Foundation is to ensure school food professionals have the resources, funding and support they need to provide fresh, healthy, delicious, cook from scratch meals that support the health of children and our planet.
Our story begins with Chef Ann Cooper's vision of schools providing fresh, healthy, nutritious, real school food to all children, every day. Inspired by her culinary experiences and the rising rates of diet-related disease in school children, Chef Ann took action to create an organization that could help schools serve better food. And now we have Chef Ann Foundation (CAF), which helps school districts nationwide get the resources they need through grant programs and free online resources. Currently, we help schools through the following programs:
The Chef Ann Foundation (CAF) provides school communities with the operational tools, training, programs, and resources that enable them to move away from serving highly-processed, ready-to-heat food toward more nutritious meals cooked from scratch using whole, fresh ingredients. Due to COVID-19, schools around the nation are turning to us for assistance with remote feeding and strategies for serving children nutritious meals with budgets now stretched thin or cut.
Our core programs include:
• The Lunch Box: A free, comprehensive online resource database which provides school food professionals with tools that support procurement, recipes, menu cycles, marketing, management, and financial modeling.
• Get Schools Cooking: A three-year intensive program which assesses barriers to change and recommends actions in five key areas of school food service: food, finance, facilities, human resources, and marketing. School districts are supported as they transition from a heat-and-serve to a scratch-cook model with a director's workshop, an on-site assessment, strategic planning, peer-to-peer collaboration, operational support, and equipment assistance.
•The School Food Institute: An online learning program with professional development courses that cover topics necessary to make sustainable change in school food operations. Topics range from "School Food Finance" to "Plant Forward".
•Salad Bars to Schools: A program that helps schools expand their commitment to serving fresh fruits and vegetables by implementing salad bars as part of their daily meal programs.
"The Lunch Box has been a strong partner in our campaign to serve children real food. We utilize The Lunch Box for training materials and resources instead of trying to reinvent the wheel....The Lunch Box offers many resources needed to help facilitate these changes and to get the job begun."
- Chef Tim Cipriano, Executive Director of Food Services at New Haven Public Schools - where 80% of the children qualify for free and reduced-price school lunch
"There are students everywhere that are not getting the nutrition they need, and Project Produce [grants] offer a great way to get it to them! It was an awesome opportunity to provide students with new fruit and vegetable choices and to open their horizons to a variety of options rather than the apple or banana. Little gets thrown away anymore, and if one student doesn't eat their fruits or vegetables, then a student nearby is likely to eat it for them. The Chef Ann Foundation has been a blessing to our school district."
- Lisa Seiber, Director of Food Services, Trenton Special School District, TN
"100% our lunch entrees are from your site! I have appreciated being able to scale the recipes based on the number of students we are serving, as well as having the measure of all ingredients. I very much appreciate the breakdown of each recipe and the nutrition information. Your site made this project so much easier!"
- A food services employee from St. Louis, MO
"Evolving from our current production model of highly processed "heat, hold and serve" food to a fresh scratch cook model will require enormous changes. The School Food Support Initiative experience is invaluable in helping navigate our way through the process of opening the new scratch cooking central kitchen! Ultimately, through better quality school meals and teaching children how to be lifelong healthy eaters, the students of Bellingham Public Schools and the greater community will benefit the most from the experience gained through the School Food Support Initiative."
- Mark Dalton, Food Services Director, Bellingham Public Schools, WA
"I have used many of the recipes from The Lunch Box since starting Good Food for Oxford Schools. As we have begun our transition to a scratch cooked menu and have been bringing in more local foods - the Lunch Box has been our go-to for new recipes such as the roasted broccoli and roasted cauliflower. We needed many new entree options for our menus as well, and love the chicken potpie and stir frys. The recipes are in an easy format for our cafeteria managers to use - they especially love the way the calculator allows them to explode the recipe to a larger size!"
- Sunny Young, Projects Coordinator, Good Food for Oxford Schools and Farm to School Oxford School District -