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.
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.