A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY, Ann has been a chef for more than 30 years including positions with Holland America Cruises, Radisson Hotels, Telluride Ski Resort as well as serving as Executive Chef at the renowned Putney Inn in Vermont. She has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, Newsweek , and Time Magazine and has appeared on NPR’s ‘Living on Earth,’ ABC’s Nightline, CNN, PBS’ To The Contrary and the CBS Morning Show and many other media outlets. Ann has shared her knowledge and experience by speaking at the Smithsonian Institute, the National Restaurant Association, the Heifer Foundation, Chefs Collaborative, the International Association of Culinary Professionals and numerous conferences. She has been honored by SLOW Food USA, selected as a Kellogg Food and Society Policy Fellow, and awarded an honorary doctorate from SUNY Cobleskill for her work on sustainable agriculture.
Ann is the author of four books: Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children (2006), In Mother’s Kitchen: Celebrated Women Chefs Share Beloved Family Recipes (2005), Bitter Harvest: A Chef’s Perspective on the Hidden Dangers in the Foods We Eat and What You Can do About It (2000) and A Woman’s Place is in the Kitchen: The Evolution of Women Chefs (1998).
She is past president of The American Culinary Federation of Central Vermont, and past president and board member of Women's Chefs and Restaurateurs. She also served on the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Standards Board, a Congressional appointment, and was an Executive Committee member of Chefs Collaborative - all in an effort to raise awareness about the value of healthful, seasonal, organic, and regional foods.
Ann’s research for and writing of A Bitter Harvest provided a true epiphany for this always curious and proactive chef. No longer could the environmental and health facts be ignored when it came to producing food in this country. Ms Cooper’s career shifted from primarily cooking to a path of cooking, writing, and public speaking – all advocacy work for a healthier food system. There is no doubt that Ann is an accomplished chef, however her focus is now on using her skills and background to create a sustainable model for schools nationwide to transition any processed food based K-12 school meal program to a whole foods environment where food is procured regionally and prepared from scratch. In 2009, Ann founded Food Family Farming Foundation (F3) as a nonprofit focusing on solutions to the school food crisis. F3's pivotal project is The Lunch Box - a web portal that provides free and accessible tools, recipes and community connections to support school food reform.
Chef Ann is happily working overtime as a Chef, Nutrition Services Director, Consultant, Author, Public Speaker, and Advocate because she sees a need for change and has the gifts to help. She envisions a time soon when being a chef working to feed children fresh, delicious, and nourishing food will no longer be considered “renegade.” We prefer to call her a "Visionary"
Boulder Valley School District:
Ten Reasons to Fix School Lunch and Save Our Children’s Future
Five Facts to Motivate Us
1. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that of the children born in the year 2000, one out of every three Caucasians and one out of every two African Americans and Hispanics will contract Diabetes in their Lifetime – most before they graduate high school.
2. The achievement gap, which is truly a social justice issue will never be shrunk unless we clearly understand that healthy food is linked to academic performance. Hungry or malnourished students cannot learn to the best of their abilities.
3. Studies have shown that a diet consisting of foods high in fats, sugars, food additives and artificial colors, and low in vitamins, minerals and other protective factors such as fiber and phytochemicals commonly found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can negatively impact learning.
4. National Institutes of Health has stated that, of the six leading causes of death in the United States, four are linked to unhealthy diets. The gap in life expectancy between the rich and poor has widened by almost 50% in the last 20 years – much of that can be attributed to diet and exercise.
5. Exposure to pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals through our food supply is being increasingly linked to such conditions and ADD, ADHD, antibiotic resistance and early onset of puberty, as well as diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Five Facts to Give Us Hope
6. Because Harry S Truman was right when he said; "No nation is healthier than its children or more prosperous than its farmers."
7. A study done by Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the CDC of a school in New York showed that 80% of the children and or parents changed the way they cooked, ate or shopped because of the school’s food program.
8. A recent study in Berkeley CA done by the UC Berkeley Center for Weight and Health provided findings that children in the school districts program ate three times as many vegetables when eating school lunch as those students who brought their lunch from home.
9. A study done by Massachusetts General showed that children served a nutritious breakfast were better able to learn and had less behavioral problems.
10. Removing chocolate milk from schools could remove 4 – 6 pounds of sugar from children’s diet every year.
The Lunch Box Project - Timeline
2000 Revolutionaries in the Lunchroom.
Chef Ann Cooper and her colleagues start collecting knowledge about how to transform school lunch so that kids can grow up to be healthier and more productive adults.
2004 Aha! Moment.
Cooper envisions The Lunch Box – a systems change initiative that makes available for free all the hard-fought lessons and tools needed to make school lunch healthier for our kids.
2007 Idea Takes Root.
Cooper brings her idea to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Food and Society initiative. Kellogg Foundation awards The Lunch Box Project a two-year planning grant. The grant is administered by the Chez Panisse Foundation.
2008 Proof of Concept.
Feasibility planning and concept building take place with a small team of renegade lunch ladies, chefs, educators, marketers, thinkers, and technologists. The Aha! Moment is now ready to take form.
2009 Watershed Year.
From Aha! to Ta-da! In 2009 The Lunch Box Project team moved at lightning speed to turn concept into reality, build a nonprofit foundation from scratch, generate funding for serious R&D, and engage in a partnership with tremendous potential for Americans to join the school food revolution.
2009 Test the Concept.
A demonstration and beta-test site for The Lunch Box Project is built. The Project is more than a site; it’s about people connecting with each other and building a movement to change the way we feed our kids. The site demo is used for focus group testing with key audiences: school food service, advocates, and funders. The feedback? “How soon can you build this? Because we really need it!”
2009 F3: Food Family Farming Foundation established.
The Foundation is awarded 501(c)(3) status by Internal Revenue Service. Its vision: All children must have access to healthy food to grow their bodies, minds and future. We must feed their knowledge while also providing wholesome sustenance to their physical needs. The tools for feeding such change must be equally available to all schools no matter their geography, budget or situation. The relationship children have with food will evolve into a virtuous circle benefiting not just themselves but our society as a whole. The Foundation is headed by a food systems and foundation startup expert and backed by a team of professionals.
2009 Partners and Funders Join the Project.
Many have a vision for change in school food and they join Chef Ann Cooper in support of building The Lunch Box Project as a free, accessible and functional tool. The Chez Panisse Foundation, Children’s Health Foundation, Colorado Health Foundation, Compton Foundation, Inc., Orfalea Foundations, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Whole Foods Market, Inc. all fund tool building. Whole Foods Market specifically supports the “School Food Revolution” in all of its stores with team members and customers to raise awareness and donations, resulting in an historic achievement for Whole Foods Market with more than $710,000 raised for building The Lunch Box. Other funders pitch in and help the Project’s R&D team develop and test recipes.
2010 Free Tools for Healthy Schools Go Live.
More than 100 made-from-scratch recipes are created, school-tested and loaded in a state-of-the art software that makes these recipes expandable to any size school. Each recipe includes nutritionals and training tips. These recipes are so delicious AND well-tested, Chef Jamie Oliver uses them on his own Food Revolution web site. Other helpful tools for real change include: financial modeling tools, budget templates, downloadable, customizable calendars, and training videos. Once the web site goes live, obstacles to healthy school food will be broken down and access to healthier food for all children will be radically increased.
2010 More Advocates Jump on The Lunch Box Bandwagon.
New sponsors join The Lunch Box bandwagon including Barbara’s Bakery, The Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, Google Grants and Chipotle Mexican Grill. Change can taste amazing.