Dec 14 2023
22. Ann Cooper, Chef Ann Foundation
Chef Ann Cooper is a celebrated author, educator, and enduring advocate for better food for all children. She has been a relentless champion of school food reform for improved child nutrition. Known as the “Renegade Lunch Lady,“ Chef Ann founded the Chef Ann Foundation in 2009, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping schools take action so that every child has daily access to fresh, healthy food.Chef Ann Cooper: “In the beginning, I just kind of thought, I know what's right. This is what I want to do. I'm going to push, I'm going to push, and I'm going to push and yell and scream and jump up and down and people will listen. And I think maybe, you know, 25 years ago, there was a place for that, but I've come to learn that system change has to be really inclusive. It has to be collaborative. Doesn't mean I can't jump up and down and yell and scream, but I have to listen as much as I yell and I have to bring everyone to the table. And when you do that, it's maybe slower, but then this change becomes more sustainable and more people come under the umbrella.”00:20 Intro to Chef Ann01:14 How a digital lunch box could change the world04:02 The role of parents, educators, farmers in school food reform04:50 From renegade to mainstream 06:42 Why collaboration is essential to sustainable systems change 09:10 Pushing from the inside vs. hammering on the outside 10:16 Future opportunities for shifting school foodservice operations12:05 Working on a continuum to evaluate partners and focus efforts13:55 The catalyst for change comes from within15:04 Levers for changemaking: food, finance, facilities, human resources, marketing17:02 Shedding light on the nuanced school food rules and regulations 19:26 Changing behavior through ownership and education21:14 The two things that would change everything: free school meals for all and higher reimbursement rates22:21 What partners, policy, and patience have to do with changemaking24:43 How to become a leader and changemaker26:59 Reflections from founding and scaling a social impact organization31:13 Takeaways for changemakers LinksChef Ann FoundationFood Lab Talk Episode: Stephen RitzFood CorpsUSDA School Meal StandardsKeep in TouchSubscribe, rate, review the show at foodlabtalk.comFollow Food Lab talk on YouTube and LinkedIn*The views expressed by the guests in this podcast don't necessarily represent the host’s views, nor those of his employer.