Success begets success. And the good news for school food advocates today is that there are fabulously successful, comprehensive programs all across the country that we can spotlight and model. Chef Bobo continues to do great things at The Calhoun School in New York, Revolution Foods is expanding their innovative venture, Jamie Oliver has brought his star power to West Virginia, and Chef Tony Geraci is the man to watch in Baltimore City.
Farm to School programs are gaining momentum, and many chefs are recognizing the natural partnership between farm to school and school food reform. (See Tony Geraci, www.washingtonpost.com/.) As you plan your research, note that the national farm to school website has a fantastic page that lists current and archived articles from across the country about farm to school and school food initiatives, www.farmtoschool.org/medias.php.
In addition, many of the earliest innovators in the school food arena, including Alice Waters and Ann Cooper, have been recording their experiences over the years and now offer a wealth of resources for beginning advocates. Be sure to include a reading of:
- Alice Waters, Chez Panisse: Principles of an Edible Education: A Vision for School Lunch – shares with community leaders, educators, and parents the five principles that have guided – and continue to inspire – their vision for school lunch in Berkeley, and in lunchrooms across America.*
- Alice Waters, Chez Panisse: What You Need to Know about School Lunch – demystifies the forces controlling the National School Lunch Program, and gives policymakers, educators, and parents strategies for how to change school lunch in their communities.*
- Alice Waters, Chez Panisse: Lunch Matters: How to Feed Our Children Better – a policy paper that describes the changes made to school lunch in Berkeley. Policymakers and food service directors will be interested in learning about cost, participation rates, and how they were able to get one hundred percent of their vendors to cook fresh food for all kids in Berkeley.*
- Ann Cooper: Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children (2006) – includes strategies for parents and school administrators to become engaged with issues around school food. Also includes successful case studies of reform, extensive resources, and kid-friendly recipes for home and school.**
In addition to Ann’s book, her website is a clearinghouse for valuable school food resources and information. For example, her “Cool Food Tools” feature includes a downloadable version of Mapping School Food, a policy perspective from the Public Health Advocacy Guide, and the Model Wellness Policy Guide by the Center for Ecoliteracy. She also includes her own rendition of a healthy meal visual – the Meal Wheel. It’s colorful and clear and a great discussion-starter for kids. Go to www.chefann.com.
Another important destination as you begin your research is Ann’s newest online initiative, The Lunch Box. When completed the website will provide an unbelievable host of resources, from nutritionally-analyzed scalable recipes to training tools for lunchroom personnel. Dedicate a few minutes to the video tour and consider donating to support the completion of the site, www.thelunchbox.org. In a very real way, Ann’s successes bring all of us closer to our shared goal of providing fresh, nutritious food to every school student in America.