The Lunch Box Expansion Project

by Chef Ann Foundation

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


Thank you for supporting the Lunch Box Expansion Project! 

We're proud to report that The Lunch Box is helping hundreds of school districts across the country serve healthy, scratch-cooked meals to students. Over 5,600 people are now registered users, representing 1,732 school districts in all 50 states. Users have downloaded The Lunch Box resources over 25,500 times! 

Why The Lunch Box Matters

With childhood obesity at an all-time high and 30 million kids eating school lunch every day, children across America need to have access to fresh, healthy food at school. This need is even greater for the 22 million children who come from disadvantaged households that participate in the free and reduced-price lunch program. For them, healthy school lunch might be their only access to good nutrition all day.

The problem is that many schools are serving highly processed, re-heated meals because they lack the cooking equipment, culinary skills, and fresh food procurement experience to cook real food. Your support of The Lunch Box is so important because it's giving school food teams the tools they need to make healthy change and ensure that children are getting nutritious meals every day. 

Hear it from the Experts

Recently we decided to ask the experts why healthy school food is so important. Who might those experts be, you ask? Kids! And their answers proved to be very insightful. Check out this video, or read some of the highlights below.

"Healthy school food is important because you can be more active during the day, you can have fun and be fit."


"Kids need school food because they don't always have the money to get home lunch. If they don't have school food and they don't have home lunch, they'll be hungry."


"I'd rather eat healthy food than greasy food. There's a lot of junk food, like food that they serve in restaurants, and probably I could get sick."


"I like carrots and lettuce because they help you think better and you can grow better!"


Thank you again for helping us reach these kids, and thousands more like them. 

Yours in the school food fight,


Thank you for supporting the Lunch Box Expansion Project!

We're proud to report that The Lunch Box is helping hundreds of school districts across the country serve healthy, scratch-cooked meals to students. Over 4,500 people are now registered users, representing 1,370 school districts in 49 states. Users have downloaded The Lunch Box resources over 20,800 times!

The Lunch Box Webinars

One of the ways that users are accessing the tools and resources on The Lunch Box is through the webinar series that was launched last March. With webinar topics spanning introductory tours that help users navigate the website, to in depth trainings on specific program areas, the sessions provide a directed and visual learning experience that help improve school meal programs. Hosted by Chef Ann Foundation staff, the trainings often feature guest experts sharing tricks of their trade and how The Lunch Box tools help them in their careers.

Past webinar sessions include:

A Guide to The Lunch Box: This guided video tour shows you how to navigate the site and use the tools. The live event was attended by 76 people, and the recorded session has been viewed 185 times.

Recipes and Menus: This session offered guidance for recipe writing in the scratch-cook environment, creating menu cycles, and navigating The Lunch Box recipe database. The live event was attended by 69 people, and the recorded session has been viewed 214 times. 

Kids Eat Real Food - Marketing and Lunchroom Education: The session highlighted marketing best practices and lunchroom education techniques that have brough Boulder, Colorado kids back to the lunch program. The live event was attended by 87 people and the recorded session has been viewed 228 times. 

The Numbers - Financial Management: The session walked through fiscally managing a food program while taking on new challenges of scratch cooking. The live event was attended by 37 people and the recorded session has been viewed 89 times.

Procurement Best Practices for Scratch Cooking: Guest panelists from the Minneapolis Public Schools nutrition team shared procurement tips and what works for them in their scratch-cook kitchens. The live event was attended by 60 people and the recorded session has been viewed 26 times. 

What's Up Next

Coming soon in April, we'll be hosting another session on school food grant opportunities. We'll be discussing our Project Produce: Fruit and Veggie Grants for Schools, which support fruit and veggie tastings and school-wide nutrition education activities. We'll have St. Vrain Valley School Districts on the line to share their positive experience with the program and encourage others to apply. We hope to see you there!

To keep up-to-date on our webinar schedule and to register for upcoming events, visit The Lunch Box Webinars page

Yours in the school food fight,



Thank you for supporting the Lunch Box Expansion Project!

We're proud to report that The Lunch Box is helping hundreds of school districts across the country serve healthy, scratch-cooked meals to students. Since the launch of the updated and expanded Lunch Box in September, 2014, over 3,600 people have become registered users. Of those, 1,840 are school food professionals or school staff, representing over 1,100 school districts in 49 states! 

They are using the free Lunch Box tools and resources to make changes to their school nutrition programs. We have over 200 healthy, scalable, UDSA-compliant school food recipes available for download, along with dozens of financial, management, procurement and marketing tools. Users have downloaded Lunch Box resources over 16,800 times!

In addition to these free tools, The Lunch Box posts up-to-date information about school food granting programs that provide the technical assistance and equipment schools need to improve their meal programs. Currently accepting applications is one program called Project Produce, which is designed to engage kids of all ages with eating and learning about fruits and veggies, so that foods like broccoli, beets, or black beans end up in their bellies, not the trash. The grant provides $2,500 for schools to purchase fruits and veggies that will be used as part of a school-wide nutrition education activity. These activities allow kids to try new things, which helps them expand their palates and develop healthy eating habits that will stick with them through childhood and beyond. 

Not only does The Lunch Box provide information on the grant, it also has comprehensive how-to guides for many nutrition education activities. Whether it’s a simple Tasting, or a more creative idea like a Rainbow Day, a Chef Demo, or even a Junior Chef Competition, The Lunch Box has all the information and tools you need to plan a successful event. 

We want every school food professional in the country to know about the free resources available to them. You can help us by sharing information about Project Produce with your school district’s director of nutrition services and encouraging them to apply today. School food is hard work, and we're here to help anyone who is committed to healthy meals for all students!

You can stay up to date on all of the Chef Ann Foundation's programs and projects by signing up for our newsletters.

Yours in the school food fight,



It's been one year since The Lunch Box re-launched with new resources, recipes, and tools to help school food service professionals across the country feed children healthy, nourishing food. Since then, 2,663 people have registered as users of the site, downloading Lunch Box tools and resources 12,756 times!

Of those registered, 1,373 are school staff representing 864 school districts in 49 states (Hawaii - we're looking at you!) 

With so many people using the site on a regular basis, and over 30 million children eating school lunch each day, one of our highest priorities is to keep The Lunch Box fresh and relevant with new tools that address the evolving needs of school food staff.

For example, given the rise of antibiotic resistance and the increased demand for antibiotic-free meat, we recently updated the Lunch Box's Procurement section with our Responsibly-Produced Meat and Poultry page. Resources on the page answer questions like how realistic is it to source responsibly-produced meat and poultry for your school programs? Can you afford it? How can you ensure that producers are transparent with their on-farm practices? 

A school isn't an isolated institution; it's an integral and integrated part of the community. Schools food programs need to continue evolving to respond to the community's nutritional priorities, whether it be more fresh fruits and vegetables or less antibiotics in meat production.

Thank you for helping ensure that The Lunch Box is able to evolve to continue helping schools meet the changing needs of their communities. 



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Organization Information

Chef Ann Foundation

Location: Boulder, CO - USA
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Ann Cooper
Boulder, CO United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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