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.
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.
CAF provides school food professionals with the resources, funding and support they need to provide fresh, healthy, delicious, cook from scratch meals to support the health of children and our planet. To date, CAF’s programming has impacted the lives of over 3.4 million children in over 14,000 schools across the United States.
In 2020, the USDA’s National School Lunch Program (NLSP) provided 3.2 billion meals with 76.9% of them being part of the free and reduced-price lunch program. The food these students are served is often heavily processed and lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables, leading to a myriad of long term nutritional and educational issues, such as diabetes and limited attention span. CAF strongly believes that school food represents one of the nation’s biggest opportunities to positively affect the nutrition and downstream health outcomes of children. With this belief, CAF supports the Healthy School Meals for All initiative to provide free nutritious school meals for all students.
Our core programs include:
• The Lunch Box provides the operational knowledge base for all of our work. Free to access and free to use, this online toolkit provides free step-by-step guides, tools, recipes and other resources to help schools improve their meal programs and convert to scratch-cooking.
• School Food Institute is a set of online video-based courses that provide professional development and comprehensive training on the key components of successful scratch-cook operations in schools.
• Healthy School Food Career Pathways is a pioneer program that includes learning experiences that are work-based to prepare individuals for employment opportunities in scratch-cook school food programs. The continuum of course work and learning experiences cultivate a pipeline from entry-level to school food leadership to create confident leaders in the school food industry.
CAF’s Implementation Grant programs provide schools with the tools and equipment needed to offer healthier, fresher meals in school:
• Salad Bars to Schools is a granting program launched in 2010 that provides schools and districts with salad bar equipment and support to increase daily access to fruits and vegetables.
• Get Schools Cooking is an intensive 3-year assessment and strategic planning program that provides school districts with the operational knowledge to transition from a heat & serve to scratch cook operational model.
• Bulk Milk is a granting program that provides bulk milk equipment to schools to reduce waste and support environmental sustainability through the provision of equipment, marketing materials, and technical assistance.