Mission & History
Our mission is to provide school district administrators, food service directors, and their teams with the tools and resources they need to serve healthy, nutritious, and delicious food to every student, every day.
Chef Ann Cooper and her school food colleagues begin sharing their experiences and knowledge about how to transform school lunch so that kids can grow up to be healthier and more productive adults.
The Aha! Moment
Chef Ann envisions a system change initiative in the form of a physical “lunch box” that would include all of the tools necessary for schools to make lunch healthier for our kids.
A Digital Decision
The system change initiative is reimagined as a free web portal called “The Lunch Box.” This digital tool would be an aggregator of content where best practices and hard-earned lessons are shared.
The Idea Takes Root
Chef Ann brings her idea to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Food and Society Initiative. Kellogg Foundation awards The Lunch Box Project a two-year planning grant. The Chez Panisse Foundation administers the grant.
A Concept is Created
A small team of renegade lunch ladies (the chefs), educators, marketers, thinkers, and technologists begin feasibility planning and concept building.
A Watershed Year
From Aha! to Ta-da! In 2009 The Lunch Box Project team moves at lightning speed to turn concept into reality, build a nonprofit foundation from scratch, generate funding for R&D, and engage in partnerships with tremendous potential for Americans to join the school food revolution.
Testing the Concept
A demonstration site is built for The Lunch Box Project. This demo site is used for focus group testing with key audiences: school food service, advocates, and funders. The feedback? “How soon can you build this? Because we really need it!”
Partners and Funders Join In
- The Chez Panisse Foundation, Children’s Health Foundation, The Colorado Health Foundation, Compton Foundation, Inc., Orfalea Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Whole Foods Market, Inc. show their support by providing funds to the build The Lunch Box site as a free, accessible, and functional tool.
- Whole Foods Market brings the school food Revolution to all of its stores with team members and customers raising awareness and donations. The result is a historic achievement for Whole Foods Market, which raises more than $710,000 to help build The Lunch Box. Other funders pitch in and help the project’s R&D team develop and test recipes.
The Lunch Box 1.0 Launches
More than 100 scalable scratch-cook recipes are created, school-tested, and brought to the public. With nutrient analysis, preparation tips, and great flavors, schools can download them and use them for free. Other essential tools debut on The Lunch Box including: financial modeling tools, budget templates, downloadable, customizable calendars, and training videos.
Video Assistance Added
The Lunch Box adds over 20 new tutorial videos throughout the website for food service directors and staff.
- A Whole Kids Foundation Recipe Grant funds the development of 50 kid-tested recipes for The Lunch Box; recipes will be compliant with the most current USDA nutrition standards.
The Lunch Box 2.0 Launches
For five years, that first iteration of The Lunch Box served as an important resource for thousands of schools and advocates working toward school food change. In 2014, the Chef Ann Foundation (CAF) releases this updated and expanded version to further help schools with school food transformation.
Register to Download The Lunch Box Tools
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