The Lunch Box Expansion Project

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Dec 20, 2014

Word is Spreading About The Lunch Box!

As 2014 comes to a close, we are so thankful to all of our supporters who share the Chef Ann Foundation’s belief that healthy food will build a healthy future.

The generosity of GlobalGiving donors, stirred in with their enthusiasm for our mission, has helped us to serve up an amazing school food resource to school districts nationwide: The Lunch Box: The Next Generation. 

The new site launched on September 17, and school food professionals are responding enthusiastically! Here’s what some of them have to say:

 “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…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


“I can't thank you enough!...I am so grateful that you put this out into the world so that small districts like Burlington can succeed with scratch cooking and real food in the realm of USDA regulations. We all can't thank you enough…it is a blessing!!”

-Shellie Kark, LiveWell Chef Consultant, Burlington School District


"With so many food service professionals working hard to meet the new USDA nutrition requirements, it's great to have resources like the Lunch Box that can help provide kid-tested menus that schools can use. This is the type of professional support all schools need."

- Rochelle Davis, President + CEO, Healthy Schools Campaign


Thank you for such a great resource!! We are a smaller Research and Development School in Northern Iowa and have completely overhauled our lunch program 2 years ago. I am anxious to add some of your recipes that I think the kids would love.”

-Rob Pruitt, GrassRoots Café


Thank you for making a healthy difference in the lives of school kids across the country with your support of the Lunch Box Expansion Project! 

Be sure to stay tuned as we expand our impact by reaching out to school food professionals with education and training!


Sep 19, 2014

The Lunch Box 2.0 is Live!

Thank you so much for your support of The Lunch Box Expansion Project! I'm happy to report that the updated and expanded version of our interactive toolbox for school food change went live this morning!

I encourage you to take a few moments to visit the new Lunch Box site to see all the new and improved tools available to school food service directors to help them transition to healthier school meals.

At the same time, we've launched the new Chef Ann Foundation website! You'll find new resources for parents, information about our programs, videos and other multimedia, and great ways to get involved in school foood in your community.

Stay tuned for updates! We're not done making The Lunch Box the premiere tool for school food change, and we'll be sure to share what's new.


Sep 5, 2014

The Lunch Box 2.0 - Going Live This Month!

The New Lunch Box Home Page
The New Lunch Box Home Page

The newly expanded and revised Lunch Box will be launching later this month, and not a day too early!

It's back-to-school season, and this year is pivotal for school food. The USDA has made great strides in creating new guidelines to ensure that every child in this country has access to healthy food in school. However, current legislative battles at the federal level will determine if we take steps forward or backward.

The Chef Ann Foundation created The Lunch Box to ensure continued improvements in school nutrition regardless of federal flip-flopping, and the new version provides tools, guides and resources that schools need today!

We'll have entirely new sections on Procurement, Management, and Marketing: three areas in which school districts are growing and changing. We'll have complete step-by-step guides for implementing alternative school breakfast and salad bar programs. School food staff can use our menu cycle planners to easily create USDA-compliant menus. They can also choose from over 195 healthy, kid-tested recipes that will automatically "explode" to the size and type of student population.

Site users can "Ask Ann" their school food questions, and the "Lunch Line" blog will provide news they can use. School food professionals can also access grant opportunities available from the Chef Ann Foundation, and sign up for the Lunch Box newsletter for updates on school food resources.

We'll be sure to notify you as soon as the new site goes live, so please keep an eye out for our next announcement...coming soon! 


Jun 4, 2014

Lunch Box 2.0 - A Timeline

Chef Ann with a Student on the Lunch Line
Chef Ann with a Student on the Lunch Line

We're mere months away from launching the new updated and expanded Lunch Box, and in honor of this big step forward, we're taking a look back and what brought us to this point.


2000: Knowledge Sharing

Chef Ann Cooper andher school food colleagues begin sharing their experiences and knowledge about how to transform school lunch so that kids can grow up to be healthier and more productive adults.


2002: The Aha! Moment

Chef Ann envisions a system change initiative in the form of a physical “lunch box” that would include all of the tools necessary for schools to make lunch healthier for our kids.


2004: Taking Shape

The system change initiative is reimagined as a free web portal called “The Lunch Box.” This digital tool would be an aggregator of content where best practices and hard-earned lessons would be shared.


2007: The Idea Takes Root

Chef Ann brings her idea to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Food and Society initiative. The Kellogg Foundation awards The Lunch Box Project a two-year planning grant.The Chez Panisse Foundation administers the grant.


2008: A Concept is Created

A small team of renegade lunch ladies (the chefs), educators, marketers, thinkers, and technologists begin feasibility planning and concept building.


2009: A Watershed Year

From Aha! to Ta-da! In 2009 The Lunch Box Project team moves at lightning speed to turn concept into reality, build a nonprofit foundation from scratch, generate funding for R&D, and engage in partnerships with tremendous potential for Americans to join the school food revolution.


Testing the Concept

A demonstration site is built for The Lunch Box Project. This demo site is used for focus group testing with key audiences: school food service, advocates,and funders. Thefeedback? “How soon can you build this? Because we really need it!”


Partners and Funders Join In

The Chez Panisse Foundation, Children’s Health Foundation, The Colorado Health Foundation, Compton Foundation, Inc., Orfalea Foundations, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Whole Foods Market, Inc. show their support by providing funds to the build The Lunch Box site as a free,accessible,and functional tool.

Whole Foods Market brings the school food Revolution to all of its stores with team members and customers raising awareness and donations. The result is a historic achievement for Whole Foods Market, which raises more than $710,000 to help build The Lunch Box. Other funders pitch in and help the project’s R&D team develop and test recipes.


2010: The Lunch Box 1.0 Launches

More than 100 scalable scratch-cook recipes are created, school-tested, and brought to the public. With nutrient analysis, preparation tips, and great flavors, schools can download them and use them for free. Other essential tools debuted on The Lunch Box include: financial modeling tools, budget templates, downloadable,customizable calendars,and training videos.


More Advocates Step Up

New sponsors join in supporting The Lunch Box including Barbara’sBakery, The Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation,Google Grants, and Chipotle Mexican Grill.


2011: Video Assistance Added

The Lunch Box adds over 20 new tutorial videos throughout the website for food service directors and staff.


2012: Making the News

The Lunch Box is featured by Rachael Ray’s Yumo! Foundation and Forbes Magazine online.


2013: Support Grows

The Colorado Health Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation donate $505,000 to expand and update The Lunch Box website.

A Whole Kids Foundation Recipe Grant funds the development of 50 kid-tested recipes for The Lunch Box; recipes will be compliant with the most current USDA nutrition standards.


2014: The Lunch Box 2.0 To Launch!

For five years, the first iteration of The Lunch Box served as an important resource for thousands of schools and advocates working toward school food change. In 2014, F3 will release an updated and expanded version to further help schools with school food transformation.

Thank you to old and new supporters who have traveled with us on this incredible journey. We can't wait to celebrate the new site with you later this summer!

Mar 4, 2014

Recipes, Menu Planners, Procurement Tools...Oh My!

Chicken Street Tacos
Chicken Street Tacos

F3 has all engines running to launch the new Lunch Box in June. We'll have

  • a brand new platform for our explodable recipes and menu planner to help schools meet the new USDA guidelines for healthy school meals;
  • new resources and tools to help schools transition to universal, after-the-bell breakfast, salad bar programs, and local suppliers;
  • the latest information on all the great changes coming up for school food: healthier snacks and vending machines, the new breakfast guidelines, and proposed rules to limit junk food advertising;
  • training videos and financial tools and great ways to involve students and parents in school food change; and
  • much more!

One important area that we're working is recipe development. When asked what they need most right now, school food service directors say, "Healthy recipes that kids LOVE!"

In the past few months, we've developed and tested 25 tasty recipes that meet the new USDA standards, and we're working on the next 25. These new recipes are a big step toward helping schools move from heat-and-serve equipment to cook-from-scratch kitchens.

New to the menu at The Lunch Box this June:


  • Chicken Street Tacos
  • Oven-Fried Chicken
  • Sweet & Sour Chicken
  • Veggie Burgers
  • Lasagna
  • Roasted Veggies & Cheesy Polenta
  • Beef & Broccoli Stir-fry
  • Bratwurst and Sauerkraut
  • Asian Noodles
  • Greek Pizza
  • Southwest Pizza
  • Pesto Pizza
  • BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich
  • BBQ Ribs
  • Turkey Rueben Sandwich
  • Philly Cheesesteak
  • Cuban Chicken Sandwich
  • Chicken Pesto Sandwich
  • Meatball Sub
  • Broccoli Cheddar Quiche
  • Fish Tacos


  • Spicy Yam Poblano
  • Chicken & Rice
  • Broccoli & Cheese
  • Potato Cheddar
  • Tomato
  • Chicken Tortilla


  • Mexican Rice
  • Sweet Potato Chips
  • Lentil Salad
  • Southwest Quinoa
  • Potato Salad
  • BBQ Baked Beans
  • Mediterranean Couscous
  • Three Bean Salad
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • Coleslaw
  • Fiesta Corn
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Balsamic Beets
  • Roasted Delicata Squash
  • Hummus
  • Ruby Red Rice

Thank you for supporting the Lunch Box Expansion Project

Kids taste test results in 10 stars!
Kids taste test results in 10 stars!


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Project Leader

Ann Cooper

Boulder, CO United States

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