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Interview: “Renegade Lunch Lady” Chef Ann Cooper – Food Policy | Safety | School Lunch | Google Food

February 1, 2010

The Erie Wire’s Interview with Ann Cooper

Renegade lunch lady, author, activist, and chef, Ann Cooper transforms cafeterias into culinary classrooms for students, one school lunch at a time. Her Food Family Farming Foundation has focused its efforts on The Lunch Box, a web-based portal that enables all schools and school districts to make a healthy difference for all children in America by providing relevant information and the pragmatic tools necessary to make good food available for all kids.

Listen to The Erie Wire’s interview with Ann Cooper.

(Note: this recording may take a minute to load: please be patient. Also, some recordings do not play well on built-in computer speakers; and would require headphones or a strong set of speakers attached to your computer.)

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Growing With Integrity, Eating With Intention: 31st Annual OEFFA Conference to Feature Ann Cooper and Joel Salatin as Keynote Speakers

The Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association’s (OEFFA) annual conference will be held Saturday, February 13, through Sunday, February 14, 2010, in the New England-style community of Granville, Ohio, in Licking County. UPDATE: Registration for the conference has SOLD OUT.

The educational conference offers informative, hands-on workshops, exhibitors, networking opportunities, and dynamic keynote speakers— featuring Ann Cooper and Joel Salatin for 2010. Saturday evening entertainment will round out this year’s annual OEFFA conference with a showing of the 2007 documentary King Corn.

In a speech given during a July 2007 conference for TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), Ann Cooper declares school lunch as a social justice issue.

“We have sick kids getting sicker and sicker… The Center for Disease Control, (CDC) has said of the children born in the year 2000… one out of every three caucasians, one out of every two blacks and hispanics are going to have diabetes in their lifetime – and if that’s not enough, they’ve gone on to say that most will before they graduate high school. This means that 40-45% of all school-aged children could be insulin-dependent within a decade. The CDC goes on further to say that [these children] could be the first generation in our country’s history to die at a younger age than their parents and it is because of what we feed them. Because 8 year-olds don’t get to decide what they eat and if they do, they should be in therapy.”

At The Ross School in East Hampton, NY, Chef Ann served as the executive chef and director of wellness and nutrition, developing an integrated school lunch curriculum centered on regional, organic, seasonal and sustainable meals. Since then, Chef Ann has transformed public school cafeterias in New York, California and Colorado.

Currently, Chef Ann is the director of nutrition services for the Berkeley Unified School District, improving meals for over 9,000 students. She is also involved in revamping school lunches in the Boulder Valley School District in Colorado.

In her work with public schools, Chef Ann is at the forefront of the movement to transform the National School Lunch Program into one that places greater emphasis on the health of students rather than the financial health of a select few agribusiness corporations. Chef Ann’s lunch menus emphasize regional, organic, fresh foods, and nutritional education, helping students build a connection between their personal health and where their food comes from.

Chef Ann, the past president of The American Culinary Federation of Central Vermont, is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, and the former president and current board member for Women’s Chefs and Restaurateurs. She also sat on the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Standards Board and Chefs Collaborative. Her philosophies on food are also incorporated in Google’s food program. Watch her 2007 Authors@Google presentation here.

Chef Ann is the author of four books: Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children, In Mother’s Kitchen: Celebrated Women Chefs Share Beloved Family Recipes, Bitter Harvest: A Chef’s Perspective on the Hidden Dangers in the Foods We Eat and What You Can do About It, and A Woman’s Place is in the Kitchen: The Evolution of Women Chefs.

Joel Salatin

Featured in this summer’s release, Food, Inc., and in Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, speaker and author, Joel Salatin is one of the best-known farmers of the sustainable food movement.

Joel says his farm, Polyface, Inc., arguably represents America’s premier non-industrial food production oasis.

The farm services more than 1,500 families, 10 retail outlets, and 30 restaurants through on-farm sales and metropolitan buying clubs with grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, eggs, pork, forage-based rabbits, and pastured turkey. His mother Lucille, wife Teresa, daughter Rachel, son Daniel, daughter-in-law Sheri, grandsons Travis and Andrew, and granddaughter Lauryn, work fulltime together on the family farm.

Polyface Farm’s mission is to develop emotionally, economically, environmentally enhancing agricultural enterprises and to encourage others to follow the model. He has spread his knowledge about sustainable farming as a speaker and a regular contributor to Stockman Grass Farmer, Acres USA and the American Agriculturalist.

He is the author of Pastured Poultry Profits, Salad Bar Beef: You Can Farm; Family Friendly Farming: A Multi-Generational Home-Based Business Testament; Holy Cows and Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer’s Guide to Farm Friendly Food; Everything I Want to Do is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front; and You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Start and Succeed in a Farming Business.

Joel’s speaking and writing reflect dirt-under-the-fingernails experience punctuated with mischievous humor. When asked what he does for a living, he replies, “Mob-stocking herbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon sequestration fertilization.” He passionately defends small farms, local food systems, and the right to opt out of the conventional food paradigm.

For more information about the OEFFA conference, please visit the OEFFA website at http://www.oeffa.org or call Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205. For more information about Joel Salatin, go to http://www.polyfacefarms.com/. For more information about Ann Cooper, go to http://www.chefann.com/.

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