The Chef Ann Foundation (CAF) is excited to announce five districts selected as the fourth cohort of Get Schools Cooking, a nationally recognized three-year grant program designed to guide districts through the process of becoming a self-operated, sustainably-run, scratch-cook meal program, with focus on five key areas of school food operations: food, finance, facilities, human resources, and marketing.
“We are so proud to partner with Chef Ann Foundation to support this transformative work,” said Kim Herrington, Director of Programs and Finance for Whole Kids Foundation. “This comprehensive, multi-year program helps school districts evolve into scratch cooking by creating and implementing a custom plan for change.”
After receiving applications from across the country, CAF and Whole Kids Foundation selected the following districts:
- Beaufort County Schools, Washington, North Carolina
- Franklin Special School District, Franklin, Tennessee
- Manhattan-Ogden USD 383, Manhattan, Kansas
- South Madison Community School Corporation, Pendleton, Indiana
- Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
“We are excited about the opportunity the grant will provide to look objectively at every aspect of our program,” said Robbin Cross, Child Nutrition Supervisor for Franklin Special School District. “The ultimate goal is for our students to have healthy options with fresh, locally grown food prepared in our own kitchens by a knowledgeable staff. We know the Chef Ann Foundation will help us achieve this goal.”
The program kicks off with a workshop including educational sessions and school kitchen tours in Boulder Valley School District, a leader in school food change. Over the next 18 months, each district will complete an assessment of their program, resulting in recommendations for change, followed by a presentation with district administration and strategic planning; virtual and onsite technical assistance; $35,000 for purchases such as software and equipment; and yearly evaluations.
“This is an opportunity for districts to take a ‘deep-dive’ in to all of their processes, programs, finances and management, with the goal of overall improvement of their system,” said Chef Ann Cooper, CAF Founder and President of the Board of Directors. “Get Schools Cooking can transform a district and set them on the path towards a fully scratch-cook program.”
CAF will continue its partnership with the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition (GSCN) to evaluate each district’s progress in scratch cooking. With years of research experience in childhood nutrition, GSCN will utilize both qualitative and quantitative methods in their formal evaluation process. A key element of the evaluation is a thorough review of recommendations from the CAF assessment in the aforementioned five key areas of school food operations.
Through the GSC program, previous cohorts have reported positive menu and ingredient changes, and continue to eliminate highly-processed foods while introducing new recipes using whole fruits and vegetables. They also incorporate raw proteins like beef and chicken, rather than processed chicken nuggets and hot dogs. School kitchens are now equipped with salad bars, food processors, specialty ovens, and more.
“We have a great program,” said Megan Gower, MS, RD, LD, Director of School Nutrition for Buford City Schools (Cohort 1). “My confidence has grown through this project, and pursuing some of the things that are best for our department are easier because I have an outside company [CAF] saying the same thing.”
Visit the Get Schools Cooking program page to learn more.
Chef Ann Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working to provide school communities with the tools, training, resources, and funding that enables them to create healthier food and redefine lunchroom environments. Learn more at chefannfoundation.org.
Whole Kids Foundation supports schools and inspires families to improve children’s nutrition and wellness. For more information on the Foundation’s school programs including school gardens, salad bars, beehives, and nutrition education for teachers, visit wholekidsfoundation.org.
Source: Chef Ann Foundation