Chef Ann Foundation Encourages Scratch-Made Meals in K-12 Schools

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH
Chef Ann Foundation

Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series

Name: Chef Ann Foundation

What They Do: The Chef Ann Foundation helps K-12 schools across the United States to provide healthy, scratch-made meals for students by offering professional development services, training, and grant funding that allow school districts to build and implement self-sustaining healthy school lunch programs.

How They Do It: The Chef Ann Foundation offers numerous programs and resources to support school districts.

  • The Lunch Box is an online resource including guides, tools, and recipes to help schools transform their meal programs. Users receive free access to scalable recipes, examples of USDA compliant meal cycles, procurement tools, a financial calculator, implementation strategies, training tools, and marketing materials.  
  • The School Food Institute (SFI) provides online professional development courses that train and educate school food service professionals and school nutrition advocates about how to implement scratch-cooking in schools. Topics include School Food 101, Plant Forward, Sustainable Lunchrooms, Salad Bars in Schools, and more. The courses can be taken at any time and are self-paced. Fees for enrollment range from $99 to $149 per person per course.  
  • The Healthy School Food Pathway program is a paid, work-based learning opportunity that prepares individuals for jobs in scratch-based school food programs. It is currently in the midst of a three-year pilot phase, with Pre-Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship programs offered through California community colleges, and a nationwide Fellowship program. The Pre-Apprenticeship is a seven-week paid program using SFI courses, virtual learning sessions, and hands-on training. After completing the Pre-Apprenticeship, the Apprenticeship will provide additional training over the course of the school year (approximately nine months), including 24 hours per week of on-the-job training, SFI courses, Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) courses, and virtual learning sessions. The 13-month Fellowship program is designed for experienced school food service professionals who want to expand their leadership skills, learn about the relationship between school food and the US food system, and advocate for healthy school food. 
  • Get Schools Cooking is an intensive three-year program for public school districts that want to gain the knowledge and training necessary to implement a scratch-cooking school food program. It provides an onsite assessment to determine barriers to scratch cooking and recommending actions, onsite technical assistance, strategic planning assistance, and grants for structural improvements. Applications are currently closed, but eligibility requirements are delineated here
  • Salad Bars to Schools is a grant program that helps school districts access and implement salad bar equipment in order to provide more fresh fruits and vegetables to their students. 
  • The Bulk Milk grant program allows schools to reduce waste by eliminating single-serve milk containers in school cafeterias and instituting bulk milk dispensers along with reusable cups. Interested school districts can sign up to be notified when the next round of grant applications is open. 
  • Specialized Programming opportunities, in which the Chef Ann Foundation administers and supports outside programming related to improving school food quality, include the PLANTS (Partnership for Local and Agricultural Nutrition Transformation in Schools) grant, which is funded by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative, and custom programs designed for specific school districts based on their particular needs and goals. 

Mission: To ensure that school food professionals have the resources, funding, and support they need to provide fresh, healthy, delicious, cooked-from-scratch meals that support the health of children and our planet.

Major Funding Sources: Life Time Foundation, Vital Projects Fund, Whole Kids, From Now On Fund, Rachael Ray Foundation, Newman’s Own Foundation, Clif Family Foundation, and a number of other committed funders who choose to remain anonymous.

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget:  $24,859,709

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: Since 2009, the Chef Ann Foundation has positively impacted the food served to 3.4 million children in 14,129 schools across the US.  

5485 Conestoga Ct., #110F
Boulder, CO 80301

Core Programs: Healthy school lunch initiatives

Number of staff: 56

Number of volunteers: 10 Board of Directors; 12 Advisory Board members

Areas served: Nationwide

Year Started: 2009

CEO: Mara Fleishman

Contact Information: Phone: 720-500-2112 | Email: 


Photo credit: Chef Ann Foundation

Related Articles

Subscribe To Weekly NYC Food Policy Watch Newsletter
Subscribe to our weekly email newsletter today to receive updates on the latest news, reports and event information
No Thanks
Thanks for signing up. You must confirm your email address before we can send you. Please check your email and follow the instructions.
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
Don't miss out. Subscribe today.