District 51 not biting into all of Renegade Lunch Lady's ideas

By: Cecile Juliette Email
By: Cecile Juliette Email

MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) - Celebrity Chef Ann Cooper has been featured in national publications and other major news media outlets.

Chef Ann is the Director of Nutrition Services, Boulder Valley School District, and Food Family Farming Foundation founder. She is also known as the "Renegade Lunch Lady." She promotes healthier food choices for children, and will bring her ideas to Wednesday night's Wingate Garden Festival at Two Rivers Winery.

According to School District 51 Spokesperson Christy McGee, Chef Ann has many good ideas that the district would like to incorporate into their school lunch menu. But Dan Sharp, Director of Food Services for District 51 says many of her would not be cost-effective.

Sharp says in the Boulder Valley School District, Chef Ann serves only organic, made-from-scratch meals. While that may be healthier for students, it has also put the district's Food Service in debt of up to $400,000. McGee says the Boulder Valley School District has had to ask for money from the general fund. McGee says, "From what we understand, they've had to ask for money from their general fund, and that's not something our food service wants to do-they don't want to because that takes money from the taxpayers."

A few months ago, Wingate Elementary students constructed a new garden featuring tomatoes, radishes, and other vegetables. Principal Carol Wethington says the raw materials were donated, and the children perform most of the maintenance with the help of some garden-savvy parents.

Wethington says she hopes to incorporate the fresh vegetables into school lunch menus in the future. They plan to expand the garden to grow winter vegetables next year, and freeze some for future menus, and even sell some at Farmer's Markets.

Meanwhile, McGee says District 51's Food Service doesn't cost the taxpayers any extra money. She says, "The money that comes in from lunch pays for lunch." She says over the past several years, District 51 Food Service workers have revamped the school lunch menu to make it more healthful. They have gotten rid of white bread, and instead use only whole grains. Milk choices include 1 percent and skim, and all a la carte choices are 140 calories or less. Next year, District 51 officials say they will get rid of nachos and frito pie.

McGee says School District 51 likes many of Chef Ann's ideas, but to adopt them, they would have to raise lunch menu prices. She says, "If they were gonna do things like organic foods or some of those drastic measures than they'd have to charge more for lunch which is what we've seen in Boulder. It's our understanding that her tactics have caused their food service to lose money. It's in the hundreds of thousands of dollars."

According to Sharp, many Boulder parents can't afford the
higher price for lunch. He says the Boulder Valley School District has "failed to break even as an enterprise zone fund, participation drops significantly after they implement their new pricing structure at $3.50 and $4 organic meals. The new pricing structure moves many families away from the program as they now to to discount stores to purchase low cost/high processed lunches for their students."

School District 51 charges $2.50 per lunch.

For more information about School District 51, and Chef Ann Cooper's Healthy Lunch Initiative, click on the links below.

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  • by Lunch Teacher Location: RE-1J on May 19, 2011 at 09:39 AM
    How can ordering food from an outside source (fast food joint) be cost effective and healthier then what chef Ann is proposing, its not and can't. We adopted this program and am happy we did i'am no longer known as a lunch lady who is a glorified box opener, I'am a lunch teacher who was trained to cook healthier lunches for the students who for some this is the only meals they get all day. Maybe the question that parents should be asking is why spend money on the fastfood joints to bring in food to the schools when your tax money is paying the people to be there and cook.
    • reply
      by TLC on May 20, 2011 at 06:07 AM in reply to Lunch Teacher
      Lunch Teacher???? LOL I have heard everything now from the government schools.
    • reply
      by So what do you teach? on May 31, 2011 at 10:16 PM in reply to Lunch Teacher
      Do you teach the kids how to properly use dining utensils? Or manners at the table?
  • by Luke Location: GJ on May 18, 2011 at 07:10 PM
    $12.50 a week for one kid to have lunch, you can buy healthy food and send it to school with the kid chaeper than that. Maybe it would make the kids think that their parents actually do care for them.
  • by Parent Location: Caprock Academy on May 18, 2011 at 12:41 PM
    There is no program at my kids school, we like it that way, we give them healthy food they like. Once a week they can opt into a delivery of "hot lunch" from a local restaurant like Subway, Jimmy Johns, Dos Hombres, etc. But as usual the health of our future goes by the wayside for the almighty dollar. Shut off the program, save some teachers next year let parents make their kids lunches.
  • by Rufus Location: Boulder on May 18, 2011 at 12:06 PM
    Most people in Boulder aren't happy with the RLL, either. The kids refuse to eat school lunch and it runs a half-million dollar deficit. Part of the financial problem is BECAUSE kids aren't eating school lunches any more. In this economic climate! There should be some middle ground and it should have been introduced gradually for any hope of transitioning kids to a healthier menu.
  • by TLC on May 18, 2011 at 10:32 AM
    The "Chef" is from Boulder. Perfect match, government schools and boulder libs.
    • reply
      by JC on May 18, 2011 at 07:28 PM in reply to TLC
      Don't generalize, TLC. I am a conservative transplant living here from planet Boulder; we are not all libs. I don't assume all GJ residents are uneducated, lower middle class dopes. Just the majority fit the profile, lol.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on May 18, 2011 at 09:22 PM in reply to JC
        "Just the majority"? Snarky, insulting comments like that are usually from the left.
        • reply
          by TLC on May 19, 2011 at 06:13 AM in reply to
          Or a RINO. Like I already said Boulder says it all.
  • by bp Location: gj on May 18, 2011 at 09:35 AM
    More pizza and French fries on the same plate? Yeah, it's filler and cheap.
  • by jessica Location: om on May 18, 2011 at 08:19 AM
    I ment "no cafeteria and see what you think"
  • by jessica Location: om on May 18, 2011 at 08:13 AM
    If parents have probblem with school lunchs then send your kid to school with their own lunch. Or better yet let's go a few months with cafeteria and see what you think. The food is not bad at all, I think since they have changed everything its gotten worse. I go to the school about once a week and eat there. Only and 140 calorie what are kids one a 1000 calorie day diet? My kids eat about 2000 calories a day best the burn most that off playing.
  • by Mozen Location: Up Country on May 18, 2011 at 07:10 AM
    I used to get poisoned on a regular basis by the nasty, so called 'food' served in School District 51. No wonder kids are getting dumber.
  • by Anonymous on May 18, 2011 at 06:44 AM
    Cut out the super expensive/celebrity meeting place and you are 1% closer. Unless the rental of Two Rivers Winery has been donated.
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