Ann Cooper cares — a lot — what kids eat for lunch. As the head of nutrition for Berkeley, California, schools, she serves organic, regionally sourced and sustainable meals to lots of lucky children.

Why you should listen

Ann Cooper has a frontline view of the daily battle to keep kids healthy -- and of the enemy, the processed-foods industries that, it sometimes seems, want to wrap every single thing that children eat in a fried coating and then a plastic bag. As the director of nutrition services for the Berkeley (California) Unified School District, she's an outspoken activist for serving fresh, sustainable food to kids. Her lively website, ChefAnn.com, rounds up recipes, links, and resources for food activism.

Cooper's influential program in Berkeley involves kids in every stage of the food they eat, from growing to disposing of it. And along the way, eating some delicious cafeteria lunches. She's also recently become one of the most enterprising members of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, launching TheLunchBox.org to give schools the resources and support they need to transform their menus and provide balanced, healthy meals. In line with that effort, she is partnering with Whole Foods on the Great American Salad Project (GASP), which will create fresh salad bars in over 300 schools around the U.S. 

She's the author of several books, including Bitter Harvest, an examination of the food chain, and her latest, Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children.

Ann Cooper’s TED talks

Ann Cooper on the TED Blog
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Renegade lunch lady Ann Cooper's new school-lunch website

September 20, 2009

School-lunch chef Ann Cooper (watch her talk from EG’07) has been touring the US this summer, asking locals to change their approach to food in schools. Her own revolutionary school lunch program, in which kids eat local produce and fresh bread, has taken hold in Berkeley, California; Cooper just moved to Boulder, Colorado, to revamp […]

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4 great talks for International Women's Day

March 8, 2009

To celebrate March 8, International Women’s Day, we suggest these four TEDTalks gems from some amazing speakers — artists, scientists and economists who think deeply about the role of women. Author and activist Isabel Allende discusses women, creativity, feminism — and the power of passionate thinkers and doers: The former Finance Minister of Nigeria, Ngozi […]

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School lunches and how they got that way, on Newsday.com

October 26, 2008

Today’s Newsday offers an image-packed collection of stories on the school lunch as it is served and paid for in Long Island, New York. Check out the image gallery, which includes Berkeley schools chef Ann Cooper’s dream school lunch pictures above (with recipes). For more on U.S. school lunches, watch Ann Cooper’s TEDTalk >> Image: […]

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Quotes from Ann Cooper