Telluride Mountainfilm: "Renegade Lunch Lady"
[Editor's note: Click the "play" button to listen to Telluride Mountainfilm guest Chef Ann Cooper talk about why she thinks the National School Lunch Program needs major tweaking and what she and others are doing to address the challenge.]
While legions of parents are obsessing about whether their offspring are getting enough vitamins or consuming too much sugar and salt, as they are trying in growing numbers to encourage healthy eating habits, at school millions of kids are consuming French fries, processed chicken nuggets and syrupy fruit salad, standard fare on the average commodity-driven lunch menu.
According to Chef Ann Cooper, aka "Renegade Lunch Lady," the National School Lunch Program is an antique – it was launched in 1946 as a public safety net – in dire need of recycling. She contends we won't have much hope for future generations of healthy kids unless we begin teaching them what good food really is.
Chef Ann is at the forefront of the growing 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 has the credentials to back up her muscle. This former graduate of The Culinary Institute of America once worked as the executive chef and director of wellness and nutrition at The Ross School in East Hampton, N.Y., where she developed an integrated school lunch curriculum centered on regional, organic, seasonal, and sustainable meals. The implementation of her pilot wellness program proved so successful, Chef Ann was invited to work with schools across the country.
To date, she has transformed public school cafeterias in New York City's Harlem and Bridgehampton, N.Y. and is now working in Berkeley, CA., teaching even more students why good food choices really matter.
Chef Ann Cooper will be a guest speaker at Telluride Mountainfilm's Food Symposium, Friday, May 22.
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