Currently, Ann holds the title Director of Food Services for the Boulder Valley School District in Colorado, where she is working with Beth Collins to transition the 46-school, 28,000-student district from heat-and-serve processed foods to scratch-cooked whole foods as a result of the feasibility Ann and Beth completed in October 2008. Ann Cooper has 30 years experience in food services including private sector work in restaurants, hotels and consulting before transitioning to school food in 1999 as Director of Wellness and Nutrition at the Ross School in East Hampton, NY. Ann's work in the school food arena continued with consulting for the Chez Panisse Foundation in the Berkeley Unified School District resulting in four years as Director of Nutrition Services where the study results were implemented and BUSD undertook a wholesale change in its approach to feeding children shifting from processed to fresh food production and becoming budget neutral in its fourth year of change. Ann, also award winning author and speaker, is a national voice for school food reform and founded Food Family and Farming Foundation in 2009, now known as the Chef Ann Foundation (CAF) with its primary mission to bring free tools to all schools through its main program, the web portal, www.thelunchbox.org.
Beth Collins is a principal of Lunch Lessons LLC. Beth also owns Local Plates, LLC, a consulting business based in Traverse City, Michigan. Since 2006, Beth has performed school food assessments and provided a wide range of technical assistance to school districts in California, Colorado, Mississippi, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York and, most recently, for Baltimore City Public Schools in Maryland. Beth also consults for Live Well Colorado, providing school meal assessments, food service director workshops and technical assistance to Colorado districts as part of the LiveWell@School program.
Beth is a trained chef with over 18 years in the industry. She started her culinary career in New York City in 1995, learning her craft from Chefs Lidia Bastianich and Michel Nishan before heading to East Hampton, NY in 2000 to feed students simply prepared fresh locally grown food at the Ross School with Chef Ann Cooper. The experience at the Ross School led Beth and Ann into the public sector where they have worked to support public school districts in transitioning their ready-to-heat food programs to sustainable scratch-cooked systems bringing fresh, real food to all kids in schools.
Beth and Ann have extended their commitment to improving school food through the establishment of the Chef Ann Foundation formerly known as Food Family Farming Foundation (F3) and its programs; the Lunch Box, Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, its newest program, Mission Nutrition, and Healthy Breakfast for Kids Grant program. Beth, along with Chef Ann, is the lead developer of The Lunch Box. She served as CAF’s executive director from 2010 to 2013 and is currently CAF's Director of Operations.
For 22 years, Nancy Howatt has worked in government business and finance. Twelve of those years have been work in school districts. Since retiring as the Assistant Superintendent for Business at McKinleyville Union School District in California, she has operated her own consulting business. She has mentored aspiring school business officials, filled short-term vacancies in school district administration, and developed a cost accounting system for Berkeley Unified School District's child nutrition program that is being used as model for other school districts. She also assists non-profits in increasing their capacity to communicate their fiscal position to their Boards of Directors, possible funders, and the public. Because of her work in computer system designs in her early career she is able to unravel complex accounting processes to achieve maximum effectiveness and efficiencies within resource restraints.