Food is Medicine Activator


Ann Cooper

Chef, Founder

Chef Ann Foundation

Food is Medicine Activator

Chef Ann Cooper is an internationally recognized author, chef, educator, public speaker, and advocate of healthy food for all children. In a nation where kids are born with shorter estimated life expectancies than their parents due to diet-related disease, Chef Ann has been a constant champion of school food reform as an important avenue through which to improve childhood nutrition.

In 2009, Chef Ann founded the Chef Ann Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping schools take action so that every child has daily access to fresh, healthy food.

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

– Chef Ann Cooper

Also known as the “Renegade Lunch Lady,“ Chef Ann serves as Director of Food Services for Boulder Valley School District in Boulder, Colorado, and is Partner of Lunch Lessons, LLC, a consultancy for school districts going through large-scale food change. Ann attends many national conferences and performs regular Speaking Engagements. Visit our Multimedia Center to view some of Ann’s notable lectures, including her four TED Talks.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Ann has 40 years of experience as a chef, including 17 years in school food programs. Her books Bitter Harvest and Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children have made her a leading advocate for safe, sustainable food. To raise further awareness about the value of healthy food systems, Chef Ann has held several advisory positions:

  • Executive committee member, Chefs Collaborative
  • Fellow, W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food & Society Policy
  • Board member, USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (by congressional appointment)
  • Member, Google Innovation Lab for Food Experiences
  • President and board member, Women’s Chefs and Restaurateurs
  • President, American Culinary Federation of Central Vermont
  • Advisory Board Member, Real Food for Kids

Chef Ann has also been honored by the National Resources Defense Council, awarded an honorary doctorate from SUNY Cobleskill for her work on sustainable agriculture, and received IACP’s 2012 Humanitarian of the Year award.  Named one of the “Influential 20” by Food Service Director Magazine and one of the top 15 Crusaders for Health in the Food Industry by, Ann has also received the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs’ Community Service Award and a Special Inspirational Award from the Susan B. Komen Foundation. In 2016, she was named “One of the Top 50 Food Activists” by the Academy of Culinary Nutrition.