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The School Lunch Revolution in San Diego

Mar. 8, 2010

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 Market’s “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.

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