Feb 9, 2017

Real School Food Might Be on the Chopping Block

Chef Ann w/Student at Lunch
Chef Ann w/Student at Lunch

Since the Chef Ann Foundation began in 2009, we have reached more than 2.7 million children in all 50 states. For that, we thank you. Your donations go directly to changing school food from processed, heat-and-serve food to scratch cooking with fresh produce.

Unfortunately, real school food appears to be on the chopping block with the new administration. We understand that there are many causes you could choose to support at this time, but we thank you for your continued commitment to putting the health of our children first. 

The country is divided on many issues, perhaps more divided than ever before, but on this critical point, we hope we can all agree: the key to our nation's future is our children. They are our greatest national treasure. Day in and day out we must devote ourselves to making sure they lead long and healthy lives, and that their opportunities for success far surpass our own. 

Today more than 30 million children eat school lunch daily, and over 21 million of those kids come from disadvantaged households, often struggling with food insecurity. If lunch provided at school is going to be the only meal of the day for a child, shouldn't it be nutritious?

This is not just a matter of social justice or public health. This issue impacts our economic viability. We spend a staggering $1.4 trillion every year on obesity-related illness, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that one in three American children is overweight or obese. This generation of kids may be the first in our country's history to die at a younger age than their parents, in large part due to their poor diets. 

These children face increasing risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure—all of which affect their quality of life, their ability to learn, and their opportunity to become successful members of society. 

It may not be clear what the new administration means for school food, but supporting Chef Ann Foundation's programming can ensure that children are receiving healthy meals at school and changing the way they think about what they eat. 

Real School Food
Real School Food
Kids Eating School Lunch
Kids Eating School Lunch
Girl Eating Broccoli
Girl Eating Broccoli


Nov 14, 2016

Five Reasons to Fight for School Food Reform

Thank you for supporting The Real School Food Project and for helping us nourish the minds, bodies, and futures of school kids across America. Whether it be for our health, our environment, for social justice or education reform, changing school food can have a far-reaching impact. Our CEO Mara Fleishman shares the top five reasons why we should ALL care about improving school food: 

Why do I think we should care about school food reform? Here’s what my 20 years in the natural foods industry and a decade in school food tell me:


For our Health

We have been hearing a lot about the topic of health care this election cycle, and amidst the back-and-forth on the Affordable Care Act and Medicare reform, one thing always shocks me. And that’s how much time we spend talking about treating the sick and how little time we talk about preventing people from getting sick. The best preventative health initiative out there is a good diet. It reduces your risk for heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. We know that healthy eating is directly correlated to personal health and we need to invest in our future, the future of our kids and the future of our country by committing to healthy food at school.


For our Planet

Over 30 million children eat school lunch every day. Over the course of a year that adds up to 5 billion lunches served in school lunchrooms. Harnessing the purchasing power of large institutional food buyers (like schools) would have a massive impact on our environment. What if we could drive more plant forward menus in schools to reduce the amount of fossil fuel resources we expend on livestock production? How about more organics in schools? Can we move towards farmers who use eco-friendly production practices that protect and enhance the ecosystem, water quality, soil health, and bio-diversity.


For Social Justice

Packing your child a healthy, fresh lunch feels great. You zip up that lunch box and smile thinking about the nutritional love and learning fuel you’re providing.  But what about the kids who are on the free and reduced meal program? These kids step into the cafeteria at the same time as your child but get a tray of highly processed, poor quality food? Will these two kids have the same opportunity to learn?  As former Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan said, “If we are going to close the achievement gap we have to close the nutrition gap.”  To do that, we must ensure that all kids have access to a whole, fresh, nutrient dense meal, whether that be on the lunch line or from a lunch box.


For our Eating Habits

As we age we tend to become more close-minded and stuck in our ways. One of the many beauties of children is their openness to explore and try new things. This is why it’s so important to introduce fresh food, especially fruits and veggies, to our young children when they haven’t created patterned judgments already about what they do or don’t like. For example, one day my 4th grader came home raving about the Jicama she had tried on the school salad bar. I’d heard of Jicama but had never tasted it or thought of incorporating it into any food our family eats, until she made a case for it. School lunch helped sculpt her palate for healthy food, and she in turn helped change our family eating habits.  


For Our Education

What we choose to teach in school indicates to our kids what kind of knowledge adults deem important, and the same can be said for what food we choose to serve. We make sure they advance in math, reading and writing, and teach them things like cursive handwriting. But if food and nutrition education is absent from the curriculum and we compound that by serving poor quality food, what are we teaching our kids? Every child in every elementary school will eat food for the rest of their lives, and the food they eat WILL determine their ability to achieve and thrive. Improving the food in a school shows kids that food is important, and that’s something we should all care about.


Aug 17, 2016

The Lunch Box Expansion Project has been Funded!

Dear Supporters,

We are writing to say thank you. Your support of Chef Ann Foundation and The Lunch Box Expansion Project has helped us reach thousands of schools and millions of children with healthy school food.

You have provided an invaluable gift to these children. You have helped us nourish their bodies, minds and futures.

With your help, we have exceeded our project goal of $30,000 and we couldn't be happier! The Lunch Box has become a dynamic and heavily trafficked resource center for schools across the country. To date, 6,355 registered users representing nearly 2,000 school districts in all 50 states are actively using the tools and resources to help them transition their meal programs to scratch-cooked food made with fresh ingredients.

Since 2009 Chef Ann Foundation (CAF) has been working to help schools across the country improve their food, and we've made great strides to change the way we feed our kids. Through The Lunch Box and our school food grant programs, we've reached over 7,000 schools across the country. But with 98,000 schools in America, we have a long way to go. We still need your help to reach more school children and speed up change.

That's why we have created another Global Giving Project - "The Real School Food Project", to help support all of our programs and further our vision of fresh healthy food for every kid, every day. We are honored that you have chosen the Chef Ann Foundation in the past, and would be so grateful if you renewed your support through The Real School Food Project to help us keep the momentum going. 


Thank you sincerely for everything you have helped us accomplish.


With Gratitude,

The Chef Ann Foundation Team


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