Posted on Mon, March 08, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
0 Comments | Categories: Events, Farms and Farming, Food Justice, Policy, School Food, Take Action,
by intern Julia Landau
What can one Slow Food chapter, one local school, a Whole Foods Market, and a Renegade Lunch Lady get done together? Just ask Slow Food Urban San Diego, who just spent two jam-packed days advocating for healthier school lunches with Chef Ann Cooper.
The two-day event was catalyzed by Whole Foods Markets School Lunch Makeover video contest. With the help of a dedicated parent, students from the Albert Einstein Academies charter school made their case for a school lunch overhaul. Their video Where Did the Good Food Go? came in first place! The prize? A visit from the Renegade Lunch Lady herself, Chef Ann Cooper.
Chef Ann has been challenging and transforming the school lunch system across the country. A chef for over 30 years, she now focuses on strengthening links among food, farms, family, and child wellness. As part of this, Chef Ann is calling for a school lunch revolution in which schools shift from packaged and processed food toward healthy, nutritious meals. Her online resources, appearances, and campaign to increase school lunch funding by one dollar per meal are inspiring and empowering local schools and activists from coast to coast. This time, she made a two-day stop in San Diego.
Slow Food Urban San Diego, having partnered with Albert Einstein Academies, helped kick off the events with a press conference featuring Chef Ann and the Mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders. The partnership among Chef Ann, Whole Foods, Slow Food Urban San Diego, Albert Einstein Academies, and the local restaurant Alchemy drew so much attention, in fact, that the Mayor issued a proclamation declaring February 18, 2010 Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Day. Later that day, Chef Ann addressed over 150 people at the Natural History Museum of San Diego. A Slow Food member gave lead-in presentation about the Time for Lunch campaign, complete with live tutorial on sending e-letters to congress.
Then, Albert Einstein Academies got down to business with the Chef Ann School Lunch-Off. Chef Ann held an assembly for students (which local councilmember Todd Gloria attended) and then taste-tasting began. Local chefs were challenged to create a school lunch recipe, bound by a one-dollar-per-meal guideline, along with (of course!) USDA nutritional requirements. Meals were then put to the test by a panel of student judges and the Lunch Lady herself. Chef Ann even managed to hold a small advice-forum about real and immediate actions parents could take within their own school systems to improve kids lunches.
So what now? Through their newly-forged partnerships and media attention, Slow Food Urban San Diego and its partners have opened a dialogue with Gary Petil, the director of Nutrition Services for the San Diego School District, as well as other interested community members. Albert Einstein Academies certainly has a long way to go (the school has no cafeteria, just a warming station), but the ball is rolling and people are talking!
Are you interested in working on your schools lunch program? Slow Food Urban San Diego has simple advice to offer:
- Collaborate: build your partnerships for visibility and support.
- Inspire: an engaged volunteer is a dedicated team member.
And of course, you can always contact the Time for Lunch team at the Slow Food USA office for ideas, materials, and general support for your school lunch efforts were here for you!
So lets talk with our schools, work with our local resources, and involve our local legislators long live the School Food Revolution!