Table Talk: September 22

Ann Cooper, America’s lunch lady

By
September 15, 2011

(Editor’s note: This chat is over, but the transcript is available to read here. And join Kim for another Table Talk soon.)

Back to school means back to school lunch. This week, Kim O’Donnel welcomes the self-described “renegade lunch lady,” Chef Ann Cooper, to her hour-long chat, Thursday, September 22, 10 a.m. PT, 1 p.m. ET.

They’ll present an update on legislative efforts toward improving school lunch and will be answering your questions.

Ann Cooper

Ann Cooper is currently the director of nutrition services for the Boulder, Colorado, school district. Through her consulting work and advocacy, she has worked for years to bring nutritious, affordable food to the lunch tables of children across the country.

Learn what progress (if any) Cooper expects for school lunch given Michelle Obama’s Let's Move initiative and from the upcoming Farm Bill discussion.

See you here on Thursday!

Kim O’Donnel, a trained chef and cookbook author, hosts chats frequently, right here. You can always check the Table Talk page to see when the next chat will take place.


 Table Talk with Kim O'Donnel - Sept. 22, 2011(09/22/2011) 
9:38
Kim ODonnel: 
Coming up at the top of the hour: The ups and downs of school lunch, with Chef Ann Cooper. Please join us!
Thursday September 22, 2011 9:38 Kim ODonnel
9:48
Ann Cooper: 
Hey Kim - I'm here
Thursday September 22, 2011 9:48 Ann Cooper
9:59
Kim ODonnel: 
Hey folks, I'm thrilled to have Ann Cooper join us today for the latest on school lunch, child nutrition and the continuing childhood obesity epidemic. As mentioned in her bio above, Chef Ann oversees what the kids in Boulder public schools are eating every day. Known as the Renegade Lunch Lady, Chef Ann is a veritable trail blazer. Among other things, she's been working tirelessly to bring salad bars into school cafeterias across the country in a unique initiative that I'll let her tell us about. To date, Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools has brought salad bars to 817 schools nationwide. Welcome, Ann!
Thursday September 22, 2011 9:59 Kim ODonnel
9:59
[Comment From Lizka Lizka : ] 
Glad to be able to join. Such a great and important topic.
Thursday September 22, 2011 9:59 Lizka
10:00
Ann Cooper: 
Thanks - glad to be here
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:00 Ann Cooper
10:00
Kim ODonnel: 
Ann, you have your hands in so many things. Can you give an overview of your current projects?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:00 Kim ODonnel
10:01
Ann Cooper: 
I wear 3 hats -- Dir of Food Services for Boulder Valley - we have 28K students - 48 schools - 200 team members & we do 10K meals per day
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:01 Ann Cooper
10:02
Ann Cooper: 
I also am the founder of the Food Family Farming Foundation & our 2 projects are the lunch Box www.thelunchbox.org & Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools www.saladbars2schools.org
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:02 Ann Cooper
10:03
Ann Cooper: 
We're working to help schools segue from processed foods to fresh fruit - fresh veggies - whole grains & healthy proteins
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:03 Ann Cooper
10:03
Kim ODonnel: 
So let's talk salad bars -- 817 so far -- in just the past year, right?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:03 Kim ODonnel
10:03
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
I'm here!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:03 Jeanne in Seattle
10:03
Ann Cooper: 
With the salad bar project we're working on putting 6K salad bars in schools acrodd the country -- yes over 800 so far & we'll be announcing the 1000th soon
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:03 Ann Cooper
10:04
Kim ODonnel: 
Incredibly heartening news. How are the kids responding?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:04 Kim ODonnel
10:05
Ann Cooper: 
We hope that every school can have a salad bar -- that's our goal. The kids love salad bars -- they have choice & all of the food is fresh & delicious!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:05 Ann Cooper
10:06
Kim ODonnel: 
So, what are you seeing & hearing on the ground level? What's the state of lunch these days?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:06 Kim ODonnel
10:06
Kim ODonnel: 
Jeanne, I know you pack your kid's lunch, but what if anything are you hearing about school lunch in Seattle?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:06 Kim ODonnel
10:06
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
as a mom new to the public school system (all-day preK), i've been sending her lunch. i just can't imagine preK trying to get through a lunch line in a hallway b/c our historic building doesn't have a cafeteria.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:06 alisoncsmith
10:07
Ann Cooper: 
Most school food is still bad -- but progress is being made.

So today in our schools we're serving fresh made quesadillas - Chilaquillas - brown rice - salad bar - fresh fruit & organic milk -- what's being served in your schools?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:07 Ann Cooper
10:08
Ann Cooper: 
In Boulder Valley we do serve Pre-K & K -- they often eat 1st & by themselves or in some schools -- in the classroom
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:08 Ann Cooper
10:08
[Comment From Kelly Kelly : ] 
Ann, how do you recommend that schools prioritize? I'm thinking of two concerns I have about my daughters' cafeteria choices: clean meats and appealing vegetables. Today I'm happy Portland Public Schools is serving baked potatoes and broccoli slaw. It's a new menu item. That's great, but where is the chicken coming from that they
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:08 Kelly
10:08
[Comment From Kelly Kelly : ] 
that they'll serve tomorrow?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:08 Kelly
10:09
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
My daughter is in the Seattle School District. In the elementary schools, they are moving away from foods prepared in the school kitchen to pre-processed and packaged stuff. It's truly awful.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:09 Jeanne in Seattle
10:09
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
i haven't heard anything about the prepared hot lunch in our DC public school yet, but what i am appalled at (and haven't yet spoken up about) is the amount and type of food used in the classroom as a teaching aid. babygirl had no idea what "colored cheerios" were until they used them in a counting exercise. and teacher gives them treats as a reward, as far as i can figure out. we're only a few weeks in, so i'm waiting to see how it develops before i speak up
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:09 alisoncsmith
10:10
Ann Cooper: 
Tough questions for schools -- Most schools source their meat through the USDA commodity system. We do serve organic chicken & Never ever burgers -- but by & large -- school districts can't afford better protein choices
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:10 Ann Cooper
10:10
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
i feel like i'm unusual in my concerns, though we live in an area where i'd expect parents to want all-organic, all-the-time
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:10 alisoncsmith
10:11
Ann Cooper: 
As far as treats in schools -- that's could be dealt w/ in the district's wellness policy -- otherwise its a site- based decision & PTA/PTO could help
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:11 Ann Cooper
10:11
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
The thing I don't understand are the more affluent parents who think this type of lunch is OK. And, of course I despair for the kids who depend on these meals as their main meals of the day.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:11 Jeanne in Seattle
10:11
Kim C.: 
Hi Ann. Congratulations on the salad bars — and on the successes you've had so far. My question is about hunger: kids who don't get enough to eat at home and thus rely on food at school. I just read that Oregon, my home state, leads the nation for food insecurity among children. How does food insecurity effect the school lunch program on a national level? Does feeding kids override concerns about WHAT they're being fed?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:11 Kim C.
10:11
Ann Cooper: 
Most school districts have less than a dollar to spend on food for lunch -- you just can't do all organic for that
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:11 Ann Cooper
10:12
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
jeanne, i wonder if the affluent parents don't mind b/c they see it as a "treat" for their kids to buy vice take. that's how i viewed "pizza day" (frozen rectangular stuff) in elementary school growing up.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:12 alisoncsmith
10:12
Ann Cooper: 
I don't believe feeding hungry kids & serving healthy food should be at odds -- we just need to make the health of our children a priority
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:12 Ann Cooper
10:13
Kim C.: 
Do you feel like you're getting support for your work on a national level? Certainly by the White House …
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:13 Kim C.
10:13
Ann Cooper: 
I really believe that all school food should be healthy & that giving kids junk food -- lots of sugar in the classroom is wrong
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:13 Ann Cooper
10:13
[Comment From Kelly Kelly : ] 
But Portland Public Schools has a great local flavors initiative. On October 11 they are serving grassfed beef burgers from Carmen Ranch in Eastern Oregon. Amazing!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:13 Kelly
10:14
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
the more i talk to people, the more i realize what i consider normal nutrition is not the norm. fruits and vegetables (or other reasonable things) they like should always be the first choice of snack in my book, but i feel like i stand alone in that. it'll be interesting when it's our turn to bring snack for 2 weeks
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:14 alisoncsmith
10:14
Ann Cooper: 
My foundation is partnering w/ the First Ladies Let's Move campaign & she & her chef Sam Kass have been strong supporters -- but so far we haven't seen support in the form of resources on the National level
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:14 Ann Cooper
10:14
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Ann: I agree! I hate the endless birthday celebrations at school. Parents at my daughter's school send Krispy Kreme doughnuts. For a classroom of 27 kids, that is 27 days of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Gah.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:14 Jeanne in Seattle
10:15
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Alison: Yes, I think you are right. The only problem is that it is a "treat" 5 days a week for the entire school year.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:15 Jeanne in Seattle
10:15
Ann Cooper: 
Schools really do need a snack policy that makes healthy snacks the norm -- kids just can't think if they're consuming lots of refined sugar & flour
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:15 Ann Cooper
10:16
Ann Cooper: 
Yes the "treat" for 180 days is ridiculous -- what kids in America are truly not getting enough treats & why can't treats be for home -- not as counting incentives in school
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:16 Ann Cooper
10:16
Kim ODonnel: 
In your school district, Ann, what's the percentage for free or reduced lunch? And since you've overhauled menus, are you seeing more kids participate?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:16 Kim ODonnel
10:16
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Also, I have had parents yell at me for not giving my child enough sugar. The prevailing feeling is "kids deserve treats." Also, people don't seem to look at the big picture: 27 days of birthday treats. They only see: I want to send a treat for my kid.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:16 Jeanne in Seattle
10:17
[Comment From Kelly Kelly : ] 
Everyone--how much time do your kids get to eat lunch? My daughter often complains there is not enough time to eat, and then is hungry later. Kids seem to need plenty of time to eat, especially when it is combined with cafeteria socializing.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:17 Kelly
10:17
Ann Cooper: 
Our F&R % is approx 20 -- so pretty low
We are starting to see participation rise
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:17 Ann Cooper
10:17
Kim ODonnel: 
And do you think participation is rising because word has gotten out about its deliciousness?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:17 Kim ODonnel
10:18
Ann Cooper: 
Kids do not need more treats -- kids need more "real" food

I really advocate for 30 min lunch periods!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:18 Ann Cooper
10:18
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Kelly: our daughter never eats her lunch. I think she is too busy chatting with her friend. And then, oops, time to go play outside! She comes home starving and then eats her lunch.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:18 Jeanne in Seattle
10:18
Ann Cooper: 
We're working on lengthening the lunch times here -- but it is complicated & often a struggle
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:18 Ann Cooper
10:18
Ann Cooper: 
If they had recess before lunch -- a lot of those types of issues go away
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:18 Ann Cooper
10:19
Kim ODonnel: 
Having less than 30 minutes for lunch is mind boggling.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:19 Kim ODonnel
10:19
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
jeanne, my cousin complained of exactly that regarding the birthday policy at their school. "don't punish my kid because you have rules" is pretty nearly an exact quote. never mind my MIL, with whom we've had a battle on sugar practically since the kids were born. "it's a grandmother's right," she says. except that she sees them every day.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:19 alisoncsmith
10:19
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Ann: why don't they allow recess before lunch? I never got a straight answer from my school.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:19 Jeanne in Seattle
10:19
[Comment From Kelly Kelly : ] 
Deborah Madison wrote on culinate about visiting school lunchrooms in France. Talk about plenty of time to eat--they have multiple courses. A real cultural priority, there.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:19 Kelly
10:20
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
ann, i wonder about the struggle to get the 30minutes for lunch. assume that's because there's so little teaching time anyway? they "need" it to teach to whatever test?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:20 alisoncsmith
10:20
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Alison: yes. I don't understand why parents don't see that they can load up their kids on sugar for the entire afternoon after school. Why do they have to load up my kid?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:20 Jeanne in Seattle
10:20
Ann Cooper: 
The most often cited reason that schools don't do recess bfore lunch is because of scheduling & teachers having a 30 min duty free lunch -- but it totally can be done
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:20 Ann Cooper
10:21
Ann Cooper: 
I visited lunchrooms in France & Italy & the kids had 60 - 90 min!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:21 Ann Cooper
10:21
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
You know, many school districts are eliminating recess (which is a huge mistake in my opinion). So, if lunch is the only time to play outside--no eating will be done.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:21 Jeanne in Seattle
10:21
Ann Cooper: 
The struggle around lunch time length is usually tied to teacher pay & union contracts
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:21 Ann Cooper
10:22
Kim C.: 
Recently in the New York Times, Helen Zoe Veit argued that we should bring back home ec: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/06/opinion/revive-home-economics-classes-to-fight-obesity.html

That's not a school lunch question per se, but it is a Kid and Food issue. Do you have an opinion about it?



Thursday September 22, 2011 10:22 Kim C.
10:22
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Why is our country to strange about these things? I always hear about other countries who are doing things in ways that make more sense.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:22 Jeanne in Seattle
10:22
Ann Cooper: 
Eliminating recess will only intensify the obesity crises -- kids need time to play
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:22 Ann Cooper
10:23
Kim ODonnel: 
Riding on Kim C's question, I've been wondering if school gardens & other food-related parts of the curriculum is having a positive impact...
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:23 Kim ODonnel
10:23
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
I wholeheartedly agree with bringing back home ec--for boys and for girls!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:23 Jeanne in Seattle
10:23
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
ann, what have you found are the things kids eat that you didn't expect them to like? i have a relatively picky 4yo eater who is staunchly anti-vegetable (unless it's roasted broccoli w/ garlic, a la kim). anything new is just foreign to her
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:23 alisoncsmith
10:23
Ann Cooper: 
If we want to change our children's relationship w/ food -- we need to cook & garden w/ them -- Hands on experiential cooking & gardening or Home Ec classes in school are really important
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:23 Ann Cooper
10:24
Kim ODonnel: 
So you're seeing those kinds of programs having a tangible impact?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:24 Kim ODonnel
10:24
Ann Cooper: 
Kids will eat most anything if their peers are eating it & if its part of a learning experience -- one of the reasons that salad bars work -- its safe to have tastes & the kids get to make choices
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:24 Ann Cooper
10:25
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Alison: I think you are bringing up a really good question. I think kids will eat more vegetables if they see other kids eating vegetables. And if they are constantly eating veggies at home.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:25 Jeanne in Seattle
10:25
Ann Cooper: 
Cooking & gardening programs do have a positive impact & I believe that we can't make real change w/o them
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:25 Ann Cooper
10:25
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
the argument for bringing back home-ec and all of the incoporated lessons (reading comprehension, following instructions, chemistry, measurement, fine motor skills, straight math, fractions, vocabulary...need i go on) it brings with it would be amazing. if i ran a school, we'd make a group lunch every day. (this is me climbing off kids' cooking soapbox)
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:25 alisoncsmith
10:25
Ann Cooper: 
Totally right on the veggies -- lots of time -- what kids tell you they hate -- they're happy to eat @ school
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:25 Ann Cooper
10:26
Kim ODonnel: 
Alison, you took the words right out of my mouth re: home-ec.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:26 Kim ODonnel
10:26
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Ann: agreed. We are a nation of dichotomies. Don't let the kids have recess and feed them horrible things, and then wail about obesity.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:26 Jeanne in Seattle
10:26
Ann Cooper: 
Any kind of shared food experience for kids is good!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:26 Ann Cooper
10:27
Kim ODonnel: 
So what can do we do, as the concerned villagers, to help, when kids are not in school?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:27 Kim ODonnel
10:27
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
well, kim, you do know how i (and babygirl) feel about cooking :-)
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:27 alisoncsmith
10:27
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
i know those programs (cooking/gardening/other home ec) are cut for instructional/budget reasons, but why in the world can't they be worked into the curriculum as integrated lessons?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:27 alisoncsmith
10:27
Ann Cooper: 
Our country has its priorities all wrong -- we think nothing of $3 - $5 coffee - $5 beer & $10 wine -- yet we have schools feed ours kids for $1 -- something really wrong w/ that
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:27 Ann Cooper
10:28
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
My daughter recently made the comment that a certain chili I make (that includes several veggies) is an "acquired" taste. She said she didn't like it when she was "little" (she is now 11), but she likes it now. I have taken to heart the adage that kids need to be exposed to a food over and over again to be comfortable with it.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:28 Jeanne in Seattle
10:28
Ann Cooper: 
There's no reason they can't be worked in -- if we truly value them & put our $$ where we believe it should go
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:28 Ann Cooper
10:29
Kim ODonnel: 
Jeanne, you touch on something I was about to say. How do we create food literacy? Start'em asap, even before school...and it's never too late to get started..
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:29 Kim ODonnel
10:29
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
as a concerned villager, i offer to cook with babygirl and her friends when they come to play. they're not always interested, but at least they play with her play kitchen and make elaborate meals. i figure they'll eat the real deal one day
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:29 alisoncsmith
10:29
Ann Cooper: 
Research says that kids have to be exposed to new foods 7 - 12 times bfore they accept them -- except if they cook or grow them -- then its often just 1 time
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:29 Ann Cooper
10:30
Ann Cooper: 
Making cooking - eating together - growing - shopping & just food in general -- an imortant part of the family structure -- will ensure kid's health!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:30 Ann Cooper
10:30
Kim ODonnel: 
Ann, I can't agree enough on getting kids to be part of meal prep. The minute they're involved, they take ownership, and all of sudden, that thing once thought of as 'ew' is now delicious.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:30 Kim ODonnel
10:30
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Also, I think we have a nation of adults who don't eat well. So, how can we expect them to be open to paying more to have their kids eat well?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:30 Jeanne in Seattle
10:31
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
I think the system we have of introducing kids to food as babies is kind of messed up. We are told to feed them rice porridge, and then add other stuff very gradually. We are kind of scared away from feeding them normal, good food.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:31 Jeanne in Seattle
10:31
Ann Cooper: 
Totally! If kids are part of the process == they "own" it
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:31 Ann Cooper
10:31
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
ann, i think my daughter is the exception to that rule. she loves cooking it - adores it - but still won't eat it. drives me nuts. but i don't stop cooking with her - and asking her grandmother to cook with her
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:31 alisoncsmith
10:31
Ann Cooper: 
Your daughter will get there!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:31 Ann Cooper
10:32
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
I totally agree on getting kids involved with meal prep. But, it's a tough call for many families--you come home from work, the kids are tired, cranky, hungry, need to do homework. And now you include them in prep--which takes more time. I do it, but I haven't been at a 9-5 office job all day. I'm not wiped myself.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:32 Jeanne in Seattle
10:32
Kim C.: 
Recently my cousin, a grade school principal, got into hot water with a parents group for OKing chocolate milk to be served everyday (instead of just Friday). After talking with the parents, she was convinced that once a week was plenty for this treat, and she went back to Fridays only. Then the lunch staff blew up because they wanted to "sell more units." Why is that the priority — selling more units — instead of what's best for the kids' health?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:32 Kim C.
10:32
Ann Cooper: 
There just shouldn't be "kids" food -- there never used to be -- the idea that kids think chicken nuggets is a food group & that hot cheetos is breakfast is crazy
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:32 Ann Cooper
10:32
Kim ODonnel: 
Jeanne, I wonder if the way to do it is one night a week for all hands on board....incremental change.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:32 Kim ODonnel
10:33
Ann Cooper: 
colored cereals - all the marketing of junk food -- should be outlawed
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:33 Ann Cooper
10:33
Kim ODonnel: 
Hot cheetos for breakfast?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:33 Kim ODonnel
10:33
Ann Cooper: 
As far as cooking w/ kids -- it doesn't have to be every night -- perhaps just on the weekend
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:33 Ann Cooper
10:34
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Some people buy their kids McDonald's every day and the kid brings it to school as their "bag lunch." Gah.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:34 Jeanne in Seattle
10:34
Ann Cooper: 
School food services are truly underfunded -- the system "pushes" the staff to sell stuff to make the bottom line -- so lack of funding "forces" districts to pay the bills on the backs of our kids health
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:34 Ann Cooper
10:35
Kim ODonnel: 
Ann, you're making some amazing inroads, and you're not even ruling the world (yet). If you could run the show, what would be your three top priorities for overhauling the state of school food?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:35 Kim ODonnel
10:35
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
it is a chore of sorts to do the lunch every day, but i still do it. the fact that she's a relatively predictable eater makes it relatively easy.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:35 alisoncsmith
10:35
Ann Cooper: 
HS & even MS kids often buy breakfast at corner stores & they end up w/ soda or Capri Sun & cheetos
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:35 Ann Cooper
10:36
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
I'm a big fan of labor-saving devices that make real food easy. I use my rice cooker every day, I use my crockpot and my pressure cooker several times a week. Makes things easy. More elaborate meals on weekends.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:36 Jeanne in Seattle
10:36
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
The schools are underfunded no matter what. The PTA at our last school was forced to fund the buses for the field trips, school supplies for the classrooms, and playground equipment.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:36 Jeanne in Seattle
10:36
Ann Cooper: 
If I were Queen of School Food (:)
I would:
Institute Universal Meals
Implement the Institute of Medicine Guidelines
Extend Lunch Times to 30 min & have recess bfore lunch
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:36 Ann Cooper
10:37
Kim ODonnel: 
You got that, folks? You heard it here.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:37 Kim ODonnel
10:37
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Ann: I would totally endorse you as Queen of School Food!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:37 Jeanne in Seattle
10:37
Kim C.: 
Universal meals?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:37 Kim C.
10:37
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
ann, what kind of parent education are you doing in schools? i'd think that part of the school lunch battle is in their (our) hands. if parents demand it, it will come?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:37 alisoncsmith
10:38
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
what are universal meals, and what are the IoM guidelines, in a nutshell?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:38 alisoncsmith
10:38
Ann Cooper: 
Funding education in our country is a huge issue -- most schools spend less than $7500/ yr of 180 days -- 7 hrs/day -- way less that a babysitter -- never mind we're expecting education
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:38 Ann Cooper
10:38
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Ann: where are parents in this? Do they know their kids are buying crap? I see all the high schoolers buying their lunch from 7-11--and I don't get it.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:38 Jeanne in Seattle
10:38
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Alison: yes, making lunch for our daughter is a total pain. We often get her to make it. But, she sometimes doesn't have the time.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:38 Jeanne in Seattle
10:38
Ann Cooper: 
OK -- let me try & answer some of these questions
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:38 Ann Cooper
10:39
Ann Cooper: 
Universal meals means that every child is offered free breakfast & lunch everyday
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:39 Ann Cooper
10:39
Ann Cooper: 
IOM == Institute of Medicine -- the guidelines will be the basis of the new school food guidelines
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:39 Ann Cooper
10:40
Ann Cooper: 
Parents really need to own part of this -- we do a tremendous amount of parent education & marketing -- schools can be an important part of the solution -- but parents have to do their part
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:40 Ann Cooper
10:40
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
jeanne, if i let the 4yo make her lunch, she'd make one she'd never eat - or fill it w/ candy. she wants to like things, but just can't get over the hump
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:40 alisoncsmith
10:40
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Alison, I agree--if parents demand it, there will be more ability to change things. But I find the parents are often the main issue. They don't want to give up their bad eating habits, and fighting for wholesome food triggers many issues for them.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:40 Jeanne in Seattle
10:41
Ann Cooper: 
Food is so personal & if parents are eating unhealthy -- there's no way to get the kids to eat healthy
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:41 Ann Cooper
10:41
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Alison: so true! My daughter happily puts in lettuce for salad and then gets to school and remembers she is not a fan of lettuce. Cracks me up every time!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:41 Jeanne in Seattle
10:41
Ann Cooper: 
With your 4-yr old -- just keep at it -- she'll get there
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:41 Ann Cooper
10:43
Ann Cooper: 
If you're packing lunches -- try a bento box style -- like laptop lunch boxes
They have lots of little containers -- so kids can have lots of small tastes -- that might help
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:43 Ann Cooper
10:43
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Ann: yes. I have tried to get candy out of ur school for years. Resistance by parents is huge. I think they don't want to give up their candy.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:43 Jeanne in Seattle
10:44
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Alison: I have also found that if you introduce things early and often, the kids will become familiar with it and eat it as a matter of course.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:44 Jeanne in Seattle
10:44
Kim ODonnel: 
I've got a special pint-sized friend, who's now 3. I've been introducing him to things like lentils since he was 8 months old. He now likes to stand on a stool & watch me when he comes over. He eats everything I serve him -- and I truly believe it's because he's invited in and he eats what the grownups are eating.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:44 Kim ODonnel
10:44
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Ann: we have an entire pantry of lunch box types in my efforts to get my daughter to eat her lunches. I could start a store!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:44 Jeanne in Seattle
10:45
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
For example: my daughter eats brown rice and nori as her favorite snack. Has done so since she was a baby. And also eats dulse flakes on her food--her favorite condiment. Other kids think she's crazy. :)
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:45 Jeanne in Seattle
10:45
Ann Cooper: 
Foods of minimal or no nutritional value, like candy -- should just not be allowed in schools -- what kids eat in schools is teaching them what's ok to eat
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:45 Ann Cooper
10:46
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Kim: Yes! We have been feeding our daughter beans and bean soups since she was tiny. She is the only kid that eats beans in her group.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:46 Jeanne in Seattle
10:46
Ann Cooper: 
The most important thing about all of these issues is to keep caring & keep working at it & in the words of my good friend Robyn O'Brien -- don't make the perfect the enemy of the good!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:46 Ann Cooper
10:47
Kim ODonnel: 
Yep. One crumb at a time, can't change everything overnight!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:47 Kim ODonnel
10:47
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
jeanne, glad i'm not the only one. and on the subject of the parental eating, wanting to make sure the kids eat right is a major force in changing my own eating habits. and tragedies like jenni perillo's drive home the desire to stick around for a very long time
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:47 alisoncsmith
10:47
Ann Cooper: 
Right -- baby steps
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:47 Ann Cooper
10:47
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
so what can we do to work on nutritional education - and changing parents' habits in our own local schools?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:47 alisoncsmith
10:48
Ann Cooper: 
Changing parents habits is hard: we have cooking classes & hands on type food classes -- that seems to help
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:48 Ann Cooper
10:49
Ann Cooper: 
We also give Farmer's Market Bucks & Whole Food Market gift cards w/ the recipes to get families shopping healthy
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:49 Ann Cooper
10:49
[Comment From Kelly Kelly : ] 
How do you fund those give-aways?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:49 Kelly
10:50
Ann Cooper: 
We've had good luck w/ parent/kid cooking classes -- where the families eat what they've cooked
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:50 Ann Cooper
10:50
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
I have to admit: I am tired. I have been fighting for good food in schools ever since my daughter was in preschool (starting at 20 months). The resistance is so high, I'm almost out of energy to work on this stuff.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:50 Jeanne in Seattle
10:50
Ann Cooper: 
We fund give-aways through grants & donations
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:50 Ann Cooper
10:50
Ann Cooper: 
I'm tired too -- but we need to keep caring & working at it
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:50 Ann Cooper
10:50
Kim ODonnel: 
Ann, I can only imagine that cooking ed. has a trickle-down impact on what's happening at home...
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:50 Kim ODonnel
10:51
Kim ODonnel: 
And I think too that child nutrition/school is lunch is an issue that applies to us all, whether or not we're parents...
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:51 Kim ODonnel
10:51
Ann Cooper: 
If we could get everyone we know to just do one thing to make healthy food for kids a reality -- then one by one by one -- we'd make change happen
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:51 Ann Cooper
10:51
Kim C.: 
Bob Moore and his wife (of Bob's Red Mill) just gave OHSU $25 million to study nutrition and for public education of nutrition issues. Kudos to them!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:51 Kim C.
10:52
Kim ODonnel: 
Wow, Kim C. Hadn't heard that news. That is tremendous news.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:52 Kim ODonnel
10:52
Ann Cooper: 
The eval of the Berkeley School Food project showed that the food & food education in schools changed families behaviors
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:52 Ann Cooper
10:52
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Kim C.: you know that there's a bit of a kerfuffle about that Bob's Red Mill donation? That school does questionable animal research. People are concerned.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:52 Jeanne in Seattle
10:52
[Comment From Kelly Kelly : ] 
It may be a natural next step for farmers markets that already have matching dollar programs for low income shoppers to extend that program to low income parents, with it advertised in the school setting. And yes, huge Kudos to Bob Moore's family!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:52 Kelly
10:53
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
kim, if you moved back to dc, we could have family cooking classes here! i'll make it a bit of a personal mission in our HSA to try and things improved - and maybe hold some family cooking events
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:53 alisoncsmith
10:53
Ann Cooper: 
Farmer's Markets can help -- but in most places they only happen when school is out
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:53 Ann Cooper
10:53
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
maybe it's a simple idea, but how troublesome is having a farmers' market on public school grounds?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:53 alisoncsmith
10:53
Kim C.: 
Jeanne I hadn't heard about that. Will keep an ear to the ground …
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:53 Kim C.
10:54
Ann Cooper: 
I've seen farmer's markets at schools -- but mostly the season's don't align
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:54 Ann Cooper
10:54
Kim ODonnel: 
Alison, Preston Maring has made huge inroads w/ farmers markets on Kaiser Permanente hospital grounds. School farm markets could be interesting...
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:54 Kim ODonnel
10:54
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
I would LOVE to see farmer's markets on school grounds.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:54 Jeanne in Seattle
10:54
Ann Cooper: 
the Kaiser program is amazing & maybe I'll try a farmer's market at one of our schools in Boulder next yr!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:54 Ann Cooper
10:55
Kim ODonnel: 
Ann, if you get a farmers market going at a Boulder school, I'll come for the launch...
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:55 Kim ODonnel
10:55
[Comment From Kelly Kelly : ] 
It could be tied in with any Harvest Festivals that happen.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:55 Kelly
10:55
Ann Cooper: 
Cool!!! But you need to come have school lunch -- we could have a lunch date
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:55 Ann Cooper
10:56
Kim ODonnel: 
Ann, you're on. It would be my honor.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:56 Kim ODonnel
10:56
[Comment From alisoncsmith alisoncsmith : ] 
isn't it a no-brainer? playground + food = saturday morning family fun!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:56 alisoncsmith
10:56
Ann Cooper: 
I think it is a no-brainer -- I'm going to give it a try!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:56 Ann Cooper
10:57
Kim ODonnel: 
It is a natural extension of all that's been discussed...and could be seamless integration...and cooking demos be part of it!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:57 Kim ODonnel
10:57
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Kelly: that is a terrific idea! Our local organic gardening program has a Harvest Festival each year. That type of thing would be an awesome way to start the school year!
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:57 Jeanne in Seattle
10:57
Ann Cooper: 
I agree
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:57 Ann Cooper
10:57
Kim ODonnel: 
Dreams come true if you let them, is what I always say...
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:57 Kim ODonnel
10:57
[Comment From Kelly Kelly : ] 
There is Cafe Au Play in Portland that has a Saturday morning farmers market. A former drug property rehabbed by the community.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:57 Kelly
10:58
[Comment From Jeanne in Seattle Jeanne in Seattle : ] 
Kelly: What is Cafe Au Play?
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:58 Jeanne in Seattle
10:59
Kim ODonnel: 
We're about out of time. A huge round of virtual applause for the remarkable Ann Cooper, who's truly doing heroic work. It's been a great hour & so many ideas worth chewing on.
Thursday September 22, 2011 10:59 Kim ODonnel
11:00
[Comment From Kelly Kelly : ] 
I know from experience that kids respond to cooking demonstrations involving fall foods like winter squash. Cafe Au Play, it's hard to explain, but it used to be a coffee shop that really just sold drugs. It got shut down, activists took it over and turned it into a coffee shop that is a family gathering place with lots of play zones and even a bioswale. Very progressive.
Thursday September 22, 2011 11:00 Kelly
11:00
Ann Cooper: 
Kim et al -- Thanks so much -- this has been great & if you need ideas or want to learn more:

www.thelunchbox.org
www.saladbars2schools.org

and follow the lunch box on facebox

thx!!!

Ann
Thursday September 22, 2011 11:00 Ann Cooper
11:00
[Comment From Kelly Kelly : ] 
Thanks Ann and thanks Kim!
Thursday September 22, 2011 11:00 Kelly
11:01
Kim ODonnel: 
Ann, we'll twist your arm & get you back in a few months. Thanks again!
Thursday September 22, 2011 11:01 Kim ODonnel
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Kim O’Donnel is a trained chef, nationally recognized online food personality, and a longtime journalist. She is the author of a new cookbook, The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook.

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