The Real School Food Project

by Chef Ann Foundation
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The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
The Real School Food Project
Feeding Equity
Feeding Equity

With sustained support like yours, it allows nonprofits like ours to flex when things change, and things certainly changed in 2020. With little to no federal guidance, school districts were burdened with not only educating and feeding kids but creating protocols and processes to keep kids and staff safe through COVID-19. Our team quickly changed gears to help our school districts through this.

Numbers

  • School Food Institute Scholarships. 125 were given out in 2020.  With many school food professionals not able to work on the job school food management needed support with virtual professional development.
  • Hero Highlights 12 audio and blog stories told. School food professionals needed to hear how others were doing things, they needed acknowledgement for their front line work and CAF was able to share their stories and resources. 
  • Serving fresh food during remote feeding. When districts moved to virtual learning they had to ensure kids still got school meals and that meant serving to-go through remote feeding stations. It also meant that processed packaged food was easier. We worked directly with 20 of our district partners to help them continue to serve fresh, cooked from scratch food.
  • Emergency Feeding We added over 30 resources on the Lunch Box. USDA guidance, emergency response plans from leading districts, meal kitting, marketing, recipes to-go and much more

Scratch Cooking not only supports the health of the child it also has far reaching effects:

Planet: Scratch cooking makes local procurement more attainable, improves community support, and increases school meal acceptance and participation. Each dollar invested in farm to school stimulates an additional $0.60-$2.16 of local economic activity.

Career: When school districts move to a scratch cook program, food service team members increase their skills and value in the workforce. They are no longer just qualified for heat and serve, they understand storing, prepping, and preparing food. 

Equity: As the second largest food relief program in the country, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides a unique opportunity for equal access to healthy, scratch-cooked meals that students of all races and backgrounds need to thrive and meet their full potential.

Health: School districts that increased the proportion of fresh and scratch cooked foods offered reported improved student nutrition and increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, increased physical activity, and improved cognitive function.

Academic: Better-quality diets are linked to improved cognitive function, longer attention spans, increased work capacity, better grades, and improved test scores, with a particularly positive improvement for low-income students.

In addition to our core programming (which still continues during the pandemic), CAF has pivoted quickly to develop a COVID-19 School Food Resources and Support webpage and provided technical assistance to our Get School Cooking cohorts across the nation. We have also been showcasing the incredible work that school food teams are doing nationwide to feed children in our digital series, Hero Highlights. Now, more than ever, CAF is a source for hope and support each and every day. We are engaged with school food professionals on the front lines, sharing tools, resources, and guidance to ensure that every child has access to healthy food during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

Due to the pandemic, so much is changing in the area of feeding our kids at school. This has become a critical issue in communities across our nation. Our nation was already facing a public health crisis before COVID-19. Because of their diets, America's children have shorter life expectancies than their parents; nearly 1 in 3 kids have obesity; 1 in 3 will have diabetes; and 1 in 5 will go hungry.   

COVID-19 has exposed and magnified our already broken U.S. food system. The resulting quarantine(s) and economic downturn puts us at an even higher risk for serious food equity and health crises due to its direct impact on school food programs, which are an anchor of our nation’s nutrition security system. Schools around the nation are turning to us for new and immediate school food strategies and tools to safely and healthily serve children nutritious school meals, be they remote or in the classroom, which includes 22 million kids who rely on free and reduced price school lunch, breakfast, and after school meals.

We hope you will stick by us in 2021 as your financial support for all of the essential work of the Chef Ann Foundation is critical as many funders change priorities and eliminate support all together. While we are proud of our successes, we know we still have a long way to go. 

Changing the Way We Feed Our Kids
Changing the Way We Feed Our Kids
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Stirring Up School Food Change

For the last 10 years, for today, and for the future.

We recently launched brand new Chef Ann Foundation and The Lunch Box websites! Our team has been hard at work for several months, building new content, resources, and an enhanced user experience. Here are some of our favorite new areas to explore:

  • Why Scratch Cooking - learn how scratch cooking can directly combat diet-related medical problems
  • Sustainable Lunchrooms - check out this extensive case study detailing how one district tackled an ambitious sustainability plan
  • COVID-19 Resources for schools - info on grants & funding, operational resources, free and reduced meal applications, and more
 
 
 
September Highlights
USDA Extends Free Meals for Kids Through December 31, 2020

Last month, the USDA announced it will extend school meal flexibilities through as late as Dec. 31, 2020, including the waiver to allow free meals for all children into the fall. Click here to read the full press release.

Meet Our New Director of School Food Operations, Brandy Dreibelbis!

We are so excited to introduce you to Brandy Dreibelbis, CAF's new Director of School Food Operations. Check out this post on our blog to learn about Brandy's school food experience & what she brings to the Chef Ann Foundation team.

 
 
We Want to Hear From You!

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of school food. At CAF, we want to understand where your operations are, and ask that you fill out this short survey to let us know what your program is like and the challenges you're currently facing. We appreciate any and all information you're willing to share!

 
 
 

This is our last installment of Hero Highlights: Stories from the FieldTo ensure the incredible stories of our school food workers are being told, we've been sharing multimedia stories featuring school food workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 hunger crisis.

 

Thank you Danone North America for supporting the development of this series!

This and other resources are also available on our COVID-19 Support page.

 
Free and Reduced Price Meal Applications

With high unemployment rates and grocery difficulties, many families have become food insecure for the first time. We encourage districts to spread the word in their communities about free and reduced applications. Click here for resources from the USDA.

 
Featured Video
Learn more about Brandy Dreibelbis, CAF's Director of School Food Operations, and hear about how she and her team adapted a home recipe for their school meal program. Click here to check out this recipe on The Lunch Box!
 
In Case You Missed It...
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Chef Ann Staff Signatures
Chef Ann Staff Signatures

We are in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter protests throughout the country. We are an anti-racist organization and are committed to supporting our community members and partners in dismantling institutional racism. We envision a world that supports the health and safety of all people. We are not there yet. 

We can and must do better.

More than 1 in 5 children are at risk of hunger, and among African-Americans and Latinos, the number is 1 in 3. These numbers continue to rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many on the front lines feeding our kids are our black and brown community members. As a team, we will fight against racism, hatred, and inequity, and we join the chorus of voices calling for justice to be served. 

We understand food justice to be an integral part of social justice. Through our ongoing work in school food, we create systemic change in school cafeterias to end injustices around food access in all communities. Just as it is our mission to help children grow up healthy and strong, it is our collective obligation to make sure that the world they grow up in is worthy of them. 

Extinguishing institutional racism must be a priority for all of us.

We know it’s impossible for kids to get the nourishment they need to thrive in schools without dismantling the institutional and structural racism that has shaped our education system, our food system, and our country as a whole. 

We do not claim to be perfect as an organization or as individuals. We can all be better, and we can all do more.

In solidarity,


The Chef Ann Foundation Team

 

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Kids in the Cafeteria
Kids in the Cafeteria

2019 was a big year for the Chef Ann Foundation - we celebrated a decade of working with school communities to help them serve healthier food to children across the country. We couldn’t have reached over 3.2 million kids in more than 11,800 schools without your dedication and support. Thank you for sharing in our mission and believing that every child deserves healthy food every day.

Our programs are the heart and soul of what we do. Through our four major programs, we are able to equip school food professionals, parents, healthy food advocates and more with the tools they need to implement healthier, scratch-cooked food in schools.

Salad Bars to Schools

In 2019, we granted 223 salad bars to schools across the country in partnership with United Fresh Start Foundation and Whole Kids Foundation—bringing our total number of salad bars granted to 5,641!

"The salad bar has made it much easier to meet the meal pattern requirements while still encouraging student choices," said Emily Cena, Salad Bars to Schools grantee and Food Service Director for Ramona Unified School District, CA.

School Food Institute

The nation’s only personal learning platform for school food professionals dedicated to cook from scratch operations launched three new courses: Plant Forward, Ingredients for Healthier Kids, and Sustainable Lunchrooms. We also translated every course into Spanish! Click here for our translator’s take on bridging language barriers in school kitchens.

Get Schools Cooking

We’re entering the final stages of our very first cohort’s 3-year program. These 2016 GSC districts— Bellingham Public Schools (WA), Buford City Schools (GA), Passaic School District ( NJ), and Watertown Public Schools (MA)—have introduced new scratch-cooked recipes, installed salad bars, added new vendors to procure local products, eliminated highly-processed items from their menus, and so much more.

Transitioning to a scratch cooking model takes effort and time. “This isn’t going to happen overnight,” said Bellingham Food Service Director Patrick Durgan when we caught up with him earlier this year. “Since we’ve started making some of these changes, the response has been positive.”

The Lunch Box

Our free tools and resources were downloaded over 18,000 times in 2019; the Food Cost Projection worksheet is one of our long-standing most popular downloads. We also registered  4,468 new users in 2019—a marked increase, and a good indicator of the rise of scratch cooking in schools.

Real School Food Challenge Goes National

In 2019, our fundraising and awareness event went national! Chefs around the country crafted and added a USDA-compliant school meal to their menus during the month of October. Proceeds from each restaurant benefited the Chef Ann Foundation and were matched dollar-for-dollar thanks to our sponsors. We also partnered with StarChefs to debut five recipes at the International Chefs Congress in Brooklyn, NY, where former Rising Star-turned-school chef Mihoko Obunai won first place for her Japanese chicken curry.

Spreading the Word on Scratch Cooking in Schools

We had many opportunities to spread the word about scratch cooking in schools, from the AFHK Parent Workshop in Denver, CO to the Healthy Kids Collaborative (hosted by the Culinary Institute of America) in Napa, CA. CAF was also accepted into the Food System 6 accelerator program, where we collaborated with tech and ag leaders in the Bay Area. 

Kids Cooking Competition
Kids Cooking Competition
Boys Voting on New Recipe
Boys Voting on New Recipe
Girls Loving the Salad Bar
Girls Loving the Salad Bar

Links:

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We recently donated a salad bar to El Monte City School District in California. The Food Service Director applied for the Salad Bars to Schools grant in 2017, and this is the second year that all 14 schools have used the bars. Below, we have included an interview with the Food Service Director from this district. 

District Preparation 

How did you prepare your district to receive and begin implementing salad bars? 

Before we received our salad bars, we trained all of our employees on appropriate stocking protocols, how to cut up fresh fruit and vegetables, and the overall appearance of the salad bar. 

Did your staff need additional support? 

No, at El Monte City Schools, our staff are all trained cooks with ServSafe certifications. We did allot three additional labor hours for each one of the schools to fully incorporate the salad bars. This necessitated a new position at each site, ultimately creating 14 new jobs within our community. 

How did you prepare your students for their first day using the salad bar? 

Principals took on the responsibility of talking to students about how to go through the salad bar line. They explained how the salad bar is not a fast process, students should take their time. They can choose what they want but they need to be sure to eat what they choose. Every one of our schools also did a mock walkthrough with the salad bars before the full implementation day to get students and teachers used to the flow.

Overcoming Challenges

Do you have any advice for new Salad Bar recipients on how to manage excess food waste? 

My advice is to stock the salad bar a lot at the beginning of the week with 8 or 9 choices, then you use the leftovers as the week goes on so that there are no leftovers for the weekend. Throughout the week we monitor what kids like and don’t like, to see what's leftover and take that into consideration for future orders. I also rely on my production records to manage waste and track popular options.

Did you experience increased food costs? If so how did it impact your program?

Running our salad bar program has only temporarily increased our overall food cost. We are able to get most of our fresh produce through our USDA Commodity Dollars, which helps us save money. Knowing how to rework our commodity dollars is crucial. In January, I will be shifting our percentages away from spending those dollars on frozen fruits and vegetables to fresh options. Our program is really rocking now, so I will be putting more of my USDA Commodity Dollars towards fresh items for the salad bars.

How has your labor changed, if at all? 

The only change we have had to make is the addition of a few more hours to our delivery driver's workday. We prefer to take the salad bar supplies out separately so that we maximize freshness. Ultimately it hasn’t been a lot of hours but we have had to add a few. 

Are there any other program successes you would like to share?

Some of our schools celebrate when all of their students have perfect attendance. On these academic achievement days, I’ve asked the principals to let me plan the food, and make it a special lunch. We will usually have a big outdoor barbeque and I get out the salad bar as a feature for the special day. It’s a great way to work with the principals to get kids interested in eating healthy. On these days we see great participation, usually around 97 percent! 

It's also been amazing to see the little kids in kindergarten come through the salad bar. They say it's just like when they go out to eat, like going out to a restaurant. Overall, we have seen our participation increase and kids are eating healthy, so it’s really a win-win situation all around!

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Organization Information

Chef Ann Foundation

Location: Boulder, CO - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ChefAnnFnd?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoo
Project Leader:
Carolyn Booth
Boulder, Colorado United States
$76,323 raised of $100,000 goal
 
2,898 donations
$23,677 to go
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