Renegade Lunch Lady Ann Cooper Shares How to Change the U.S. School Lunch Disaster : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Wednesday Oct 12 | BY |
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school lunch ann cooper
This dude doesn’t have to worry much about bad school lunches, his dad is healthy… (It’s not me BTW!)

What I’m going to share now is probably the best Edible Education 101 lecture so far…

There’s something about it that is not only educational and exciting, but you can just sense the passion coming through.

I like people like Ann Cooper.

Today, if you don’t know who she is, you can meet her as she explains what she’s done to change the school lunches in the districts she’s worked in.

Please make sure you watch this, it’s inspiring and all-around awesome.

Take a look now (my comments follow below in text)…

My thoughts on this lecture…

1. I really shouldn’t give you my thoughts.

Why? Because you might not watch the video and only get the Cliff’s Notes here. Please watch this video. Ann is great and the Q & A session at the end is fantastic. She’s a real change agent and anyone can be inspired by what she’s doing.

2. “You can change anything you want to change.”

I love Ann’s attitude. She’s right. You can change anything.

The biggest things that are getting in your way are, first, your beliefs that you can’t do it, and, second, the fact that you’re probably focusing on 10 things at once.

Not more than 2 minutes into the lecture, Ann is giving everyone an important lesson in belief systems and focus.

Love it.

2. 29 Million pounds of antibiotics are used in the U.S. 80% are used in animal husbandry.

That’s a lot of antibiotics. This means if you’ve ever eaten non-organic, factory raised meat, you’re gut flora is probably out of whack. Even if you’ve never taken antibiotics!

This gut flora disruption could possibly be causing you digestive problems and symptoms you may be struggling to find the cause of.

Maybe this is your answer.

As for why so many antibiotics are used is simple. When you feed cows food that they don’t normally eat and put them in close quarters, they get sick.

It’s just like you eating junk food and getting sick every two months – with the exception that you stand in a cage head to butt, to head to butt with thousands of other humans.

3. 1947 Time Magazine Ad Propaganda: “DDT is Good for Me-e-e!”

“The great expectations held for DDT have been realized. During 1946, exhaustive scientific tests have shown that when properly used, DDT kills a host of destructive insect pests, and it a benefactor of all humanity.”

I’ll let you chew on that one.

What else could we be saying is perfectly safe now…

4. Passion!

Ann’s got some serious passion and I love it.

Passionate people get me inspired to get things done. I hope Ann has done the same for you as she has for me.

5. You need to talk to the union to allow them to cut carrots.

One of the biggest challenges in making any policy change is that everyone wants to have a piece in the decision making process.

In some cases, this can be a good thing. In others, it’s a waste of time.

Ann’s biggest complaint – and I heard it loud and clear – is that she’s just trying to get kids to eat real food. It’s amazing the resistance that can be encountered when this happens.

But like I said before, I think Ann does a fantastic job of explaining the bureaucracy and challenges of changing the food system, so it I think it’s worth while to play this entire video and not rely on me to wrap it up. This is something you could really benefit from listening to.

7. Sites to visit…

Ann mentions two site to visit…

First is

This site is where you can get a kit on how to help change your own community’s school lunch!

The second is

This non-profit’s aim is to bring 6000 salad bars to schools around the country.

8. GOTTA WATCH: How school food is purchased…

If you only watch part of this lecture, please watch starting at about the 42:00 minute mark as Ann explains how school food is purchased.

It’s great insight into a broken system.

9. School lunch in Italy and France is a gourmet dining experience.

In France and Italy, about $5.00-6.00 is spent a day per child for their lunch.

In the U.S. it’s $2.77 per lunch.

In Ann’s experience, lunches in these two countries are 90 minutes (compared to 15-20 min in the U.S.)

That’s it for me! Be sure to pass this one along and take action if she inspired you…

Your question of the day: What did you think about this? Did it inspire you? Make you mad?

Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Eva Pardee says:

    Do you have any suggestions for my husband who has metastatic prostate cancer. He has gone through radiation, chemotherapy, and hormone treatments. Do you have treatments that cure him?
    I look forward to your reply.
    Eva Pardee

  2. Russ says:

    Thanks for your comments Kevin. I watch these videos as well as many others on the UC Berkeley YouTube channel. very educational and yes, this type of info makes me very mad because I have 2 young kids in school.

  3. Wow Kevin! Great video! It all starts with what we feed our kids! How can they focus and learn when consuming a diet of antibiotics, herbicides, fungicides and GMOs !! Thankfully, Ann is spreading the word which is causing change! Let’s all support her mission and spread further awareness! Maybe the mainstream will begin to realize that organic does not mean hippie, tree-hugger or new age stereotype but rather a way we all need to demand our food is grown!

  4. My son has choice lunch at school ($6 a pop) and they promote organic food. Then one day i was helped pass out the lunch and saw that the snacks were goldfish and pizza from a local pizzeria. Both use GMOS, i was horrified. So no more at school lunches for my son. Hope the GMO labeling law gets passed next year!

  5. Roberta says:

    Kevin, thank you sooooo much!!! Ann Cooper is my new hero. She is absolutely amazing.!!! I love her. Her knowledge and wisdom are astounding.

  6. Mary Moore says:

    excellent… thank you!

  7. kt_mm says:

    Thanks for sharing this. LOVE this woman! I have a young one that will be entering the school system and this topic has been on my mind from just about when she was born. This is GREAT inspirational information. And, it just proves that the only way to bring about change, is to become the change. I will definitely be sharing this one. I did watch right to the end and was a little disappointed that the last question about hope got cut off. Still, a great hour.

  8. mike says:

    no number 6? sometimes i hate those cheap salad bars, u kno..thanks again!

  9. Brandi says:

    What if the teachers were to become more involved, have their kids create a project flyer to take home to their parents with a visual of what they’re eating everyday and what they could be eating and then a couple of facts of why the school needs help in raising funds for the right food. Also, the schools could host monthly potluck picnics with the parents and children exploring a certain culture’s cuisine and perhaps instruction on how to find/grow better ingredients.

  10. Omar-DaviD says:

    ” death threats for wanting to BAN-Chocolate-Milk…. wHoaaa-NELLY-CRUZ(17) “;

  11. Velda says:

    I agree our kids need to learn about food and our schools need to feed our kids better. Don’t tell me they can’t afford. They give administration outrageous salaries and claim they can’t afford to feed our kids. I’ve said for a long time that schools need to start growing gardens. My middle son used to attend a school that had a few animals to care for as well as a little garden. It is great for them. Also, if she thinks for a second this current administration gives one red cent about the education and feeding of our childrent, she is extremely mislead.

  12. LA says:

    AWESOME!!!!!!!! Love Ann’s passion. We need more chefs to speak up like her and more people everywhere to do that one thing she mentions!!!

  13. Valorie says:

    I have two sons in school. I make them lunch to take to school. The food available to them at school is inedible in my opinion.

  14. Kadi says:

    Comment on #9
    Living in France, I can confirm, that the lunch break really is 90+ minutes (in our school it’s actually 120minutes), but all this time does is not used for eating. With the 6eur (=4.37usd) lunch break I pay not only for food, but also for the adult who looks after them (their teachers also have lunch breaks, so it’s a separate set of people) and arranges their activities. Sometimes when there are more kids eating, they may well do two shifts. For the especially popular day to have lunch at school like Christmas lunch, they even walk to the local Cultural Centre – so everyone could eat together. Which is lovely.
    The excellent news here is that any canteen offering more than 80 meals per day is not allowed to serve french fries more than once a week (which is still a lot, but it’s step in the right direction). And (!) no ketchup allowed.

  15. Cindy says:

    I’ve watched Ann Cooper before & this really makes me mad. My granddaughter has the option of Choice Lunch at school. It all sounds good because it’s supposed to be organic, but it turns out that every meal can also include chocolate milk & cookies. My daughter now packs her lunch instead.

    I also hate the fact that they use candy & sugar coated cereals as incentives in the classrooms. We’ve taught my granddaughter that treats are a once in a while thing. It is really irritating that they give these things to the kids on a regular basis. And then the kids really feel left out if you forbid them to participate. Why can’t they use cut up fruits as incentives? My granddaughter loves all kinds of fruits.

  16. Lori says:

    The food served to our kids is not meant for human consumption, but it is. My daughter takes a lunch to school every single day along side a lot of her friends who buy school lunch every single day (and school breakfast). Its such a huge disparity in the quality of nutrition. It comes as no surprise that the school districts operate under the edict of the USDA’s ‘go with the cheapest bidder.’ Just looking at the food served, its clear that it should not be meant for human consumption – yet we shovel it to our kids twice a day every day. it’s a good indicator that things have been turned upside down and inside out. I’m so glad for people like Ann who can facilitate putting this issue right side out and upside up.

  17. Anna says:

    Great video, inspiring message. Thank you for sharing this. A few things to add- the President gets funding from Cargill, Monsanto, etc. & he deregulated GMO’s at their request- VERY SCARY. Obama also appointed Michael Taylor, former lead counsel & lobbyist for Monsanto to head the FDA. Obama is not an advocate of healthy food or organic farming (ignore what he & Michelle say, & watch their actions).

    Another thing is everyone has to pay their share to make the system work. Across the country, there are millions of illegals that are sending their kids to schools, causing overcrowding & underfunding (esp. in NYC). They do not pay taxes (unless they steal an American’s identity), yet feel their kids are entitled to a free education & free breakfasts & lunches at schools. But the reality is, NOTHING is ‘free’. Taxpayers are already overburdened contributing to the school system (esp. in NYC), & frustrated that many are milking the systen for benefits without putting in a dime.

    This issue is getting worse as illegal immigration is escalating. But the issue goes deeper than just illegal immigration. The bigger issue is folks that feel that they are entitled to ‘free’ benefits that others are obligated to pay for. No one is entitled to anything. In order for the system to work, everybody has to play fair, and pay their share.

  18. Charlotte says:

    I pressed play and it said “this video is private” on the screen. Is anyone else getting this?

  19. Lawrence says:

    I can see that this is definitely a challenge for Ann. Not only is junk food cheaper to produce, but it’s highly addictive – the kids will definitely resist changing to health food, especially if they eat mostly junk food outside of school hours.

    However, I believe that parents (and people in general) are starting to wake up and realize how important nutrition is.

    I’m recovering junk food addict, so I know all too well how tempting it is to stray and eat junk (which I call “poison”). My office is a constant source of temptation. People are always coming in with donuts. The vending machines have chips and Pepsi.

    My friend has a 12 year old that eats nothing but junk – fries, chips, etc. He is sick almost all the time, with stomach problems. I’m trying to encourage her to feed him the traditional way (they are aboriginal).

    We don’t have school lunch programs where I live, but it doesn’t mean that kids are eating any better. Kids often bring “Lunchables”, which have no nutrition, or they go home for lunch and feed themselves, and you know that they aren’t making themselves salads with homemade dressing.

  20. Heather says:

    Hi Kevin

    I would love to watch the whole thing and set time aside to do so only to have it say “This Video is private” and it would not let me view it.
    I could not see anyone else that seems to have this issue.
    Is it because I am from Canada?

  21. joel brown says:

    it says private for me too in the US. 🙁

  22. nick says:

    I am in NY and could not view the video too! I am very concerned with food being fed to kids from school and tneir parents. Why we continue to promote junk food by giving farmers incentives to grow GMO and corn syrup while making it more difficult and expensive for farmers to grow organic healthy food. I am a teacher and when I go into the lunch room it is very difficult for me to watch the extremely small portion of vegtables that students have to request but the chicken nuggets or beef taco is poured onto their plate and the only thing most of them are eating. there is a law that they have to have 3 things on their plate but they do not say what so most of the time it is meat,milk and potatoe chips all of which are probably GMO and loaded with pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones!

  23. Darlene says:

    My sister is a school lunch director in the state of NH. Last year she was also the president of the NH school food nutrition. I sent her the video to view for her comments. Her comment was: “I have actually seen her speak live. She is not school lunch friendly, she is another sensationalized speaker like Jamie Oliver. She would do better promoting help than criticism.”
    So, having said that, I appreciate you showing this video very much Kevin. But, as my sister (who is directly involved) says, we need solutions, not critisms of the system. What can we do?

  24. Tammy Morgan says:

    This is a wonderful lecture. Thank you for sharing it.

    I walked into another room for a few moments and so the sound was a bit tough to hear… Towards the end when Ann was talking about allergy options for the kids , I totally thought that she said “algae options for the kids.”

    This is probably a good place to note that NONE of the water faucets were in decent working order at my public schools in el monte, ca, during the 80’s. I swear I was one thirsty little first grader and the water was always just trickling out of the calcified pipes.

    School tap water was a huge bummer for sure. Of course the sugary, flavored, fancy-labeled drinks like capri-sun looked like gold to a thirsty kid… sigh*

    I wonder what can be done to get kids access to clean, purified, drinking stalls at school too…

  25. barbara g. says:

    About 12 years ago I came across a feed our school kids healthier lunch program where information is easily obtained and it showed how schools actually saved money. I sent it to our 1st selectmen. She liked it enough she sent it on to the Board of Education. It died before it was even read. Glad Ann is involved as she is, shaking things up. And yes, solutions are most important but FDA, USDA, Gov’t, Lobbyists, Big Pharma, Boards of Ed, other local boards etc. have to hear our criticisms so they know that we know what they think we don’t know.

    As many have said, they pack lunches for their kids.

    I did the same for my daughter when she went through school. There is nothing saying that kids should eat totally non-nutritional food for lunch. When I was in school sooooo long ago, most kids brought lunch (did not eat school lunch (mostly pasta and pizza and sandwiches)

    Even those on food stamps can send kids to school with a better lunch. One just has to care enough to do so.

    Many comments today very good. Thanks for posting. The best comment: the President gets funding from Cargill, Monsanto, etc. & he deregulated GMO’s at their request- VERY SCARY. Obama also appointed Michael Taylor, former lead counsel & lobbyist for Monsanto to head the FDA. (My add: Obama has even gone to Europe on Monsantos behalf to persuade European countries and China to use GMO seeds.)

  26. Jia says:

    Wow … I am so grateful for you Kevin. Thanks for bring us the passion of Ann Cooper. We are so lucky to have Ann fighting for our kids.

    When I went to watch the video it said private but I just googled “youtube Ann Cooper” and it came up and had no trouble playing it.

  27. […] The Renegade Lunch Lady (a pretty good name, don’t you think?) gets a last minute inclusion because of her amazing work and talk at Berkeley – we were lucky enough to be there to see it. Ann is driven, passionate and real – qualities that Woman of the Year should definitely have. I would love to talk shop with her and take her up on the school lunch offer she gave us next time we’re in Boulder. (Here’s that video of her at Cal: click here) […]

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