It’s Back to School time, and parents and students are asking for better food when they get there. Chef Ann Cooper is at the forefront of the campaign to “transform how we feed our children in school each day, from highly processed to highly nourishing food — one school lunch at a time.”
We asked Chef Ann for advice on how to make positive change happen.
Here’s the first thing parents can do: Every school has had a wellness policy in place since 2006 from the USDA. Many of these are collecting dust on some administrator’s desk. So my advice is: Find it and Read it! Go in and eat lunch with the kids. Compare the policy and the food. If the policy is good and the food is bad – then it’s an implementation issue. If the policy is bad and the food is bad, then it’s a policy issue. This is a place to start.
Second, get like-minded people together and go to the school board.
Three: Get a group to try and support the Nutrition Food Services at the school. Have a meeting with the director. Ask, what do you need? They aren’t necessarily the enemy. There are site-based decisions: about lunch times, length of the lunch period – 30 minutes makes a big difference. Look at whether recess comes before or after lunch. Having recess before lunch is much better, because if kids run around and play they’re hungry and thirsty, and they’re more likely to sit still and eat!
Chef Ann’s fourth book is called Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way we Feed Our Children. The Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative already serves half a million children, and she’s aiming for 100% participation. … Are you at a school that wants a salad bar? Find out more!
What’s her advice on packing lunches that kids will love?
I really think that kids need choices. They need to be part of the planning. I like lunchbox systems that can handle lots of little things. Dried fruit and nuts, fresh fruit or veggies with a dip, a little salad, a small sandwich. Kids love to dip, to taste, to have choice.
Click here to get Chef Ann’s recipes for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Mango Lassi, anyone? Nuts & Bolts? Lemon Ricotta Pancakes?
Chef Ann’s website has tools including this Chez Panisse-spnsored booklet:
Find out more about Chef Ann on her site, ChefAnn.com, where you can sign up for “Ann Alerts.” Join her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/chefannc) and follw her on Twitter @ChefAnnC and via hashtag #foodrevolution.
For more ideas, check out The Lunch Box, another free online resource with recipes, how-to videos, and inspiration!
You’ll feel great when you grab 10 of these actions for your PG Back to School badge!