'Renegade Lunch Lady' to give talk on healthy food for schools

School lunch items

According to the Center for Disease Control, one out of every three Americans will develop diabetes in their lifetime. Chef Ann Cooper, also known as the “Renegade Lunch Lady,” is trying to change that.

Cooper will discuss “Creating a Healthy School Food System” in a public talk hosted by the UO Food Studies Program at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 20, in Room 282, Lillis Hall. The event is co-hosted by the UO’s Urban Farm and is free to the public.

Prior to Cooper’s remarks, local representatives working to nourish healthy food systems will give a short talk.

Cooper directs food services for the Boulder Valley School District in Boulder, Colorado, but she does more than that. Cooper is a chef, award-winning author and an advocate of healthy food for all children.

In 2009, she founded the Chef Ann Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping schools provide all children access to fresh and healthy food. Lunch Lessons LLC, her consulting business, works to help school districts transition to serving healthier meals.

“Fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, whole grains and healthy proteins,” she said in a TEDx Talk in 2013, ”who doesn’t want that for their kids? Why is that so hard? Why can’t we have that in every school in America?”

In addition to her job, writing, business, nonprofit and speaking engagements, Cooper also holds various advisory positions with organizations around the country, including Chefs Collaborative, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the federal agriculture department’s National Organic Standards Board and Google’s Innovation Lab for Food Experiences.

“I envision a time, soon,” she said, “when being a chef working to feed children fresh, delicious and nourishing food will no longer be considered renegade.”

To learn more about the event, or to sign up as “going,” see the UO Food Studies Program’s Facebook page.