Food Revolution Professional

The amazing individuals we highlight here are chefs, school nutrition directors, foodservice providers, restaurant owners and other food professionals who are showing us the way to better food for kids. Their programs provide models for how to cook healthy food from good ingredients that kids and adults will love to eat.

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Rodney Taylor, Director of Nutrition Services

Rodney - the "salad bar man" - champions farm-fresh food and social justice for the Riverside Unified School District. While working in Santa Monica-Malibu (CA), Rodney partnered with motivated parents to create a Farmers Market Salad Bar and one of America's first Farm to School programs. In 2002, Rodney moved to Riverside, a large urban district, facing different challenges and with fewer resources. Rodney holds taste tests, hosts outdoor barbecues, and targets teachers as customers; he isn't a "food purist” but passionately avoids canned fruits and vegetables. Rodney treats school food as a business with a social cause and has slashed costs, boosted participation, and done right by the kids of Riverside.

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Rafaelita 'RC' Curva, Director of Student Nutrition Service

RC Curva has been working since 2001 to bring freshly prepared and made-from-scratch dishes to the lunch plates of the students in the Davis Joint Unified School District, Ca. Currently, 49 per cent of the produce purchased comes from farms within a 300-mile radius of the city. Every school has a seasonal salad bar and hot entrée items, such as Thai lemon chicken, seasonal vegetables and organic rice. Emphasizing professional development, RC has worked with Davis Farm to School for three years running to organize classes from award-winning cookbook authors in flavor profiles, ethnic diversity, and cooking with fresh seasonal vegetables.

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Sandy Curwood, Director of Food and Nutrition Services

Ventura Unified School District takes a holistic approach to creating a healthy school environment by operating a district-wide Healthy Schools Project. Every school cafeteria features farm-to-school salad bars sourced from local sustainable agriculture. Sixty per cent of meals are from scratch cooking and there is no flavored milk or chicken nuggets on elementary school menus. School gardens grow produce that is utilized in the cafeteria, whilst students learn about environmental stewardship and agricultural literacy. Classroom nutrition education is enhanced with cooking instruction and taste-testing with a Harvest of Month program. Sandy believes that connecting the cafeteria to the classroom creates healthy, happy learning.

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Rick Cota, Nutrition Services Director

Rick is Nutrition Services Director in Claremont Unified School District, California, and is leading his district on the journey to scratch cooking. After a transformational year, the food service team are preparing their own fresh vegetables, have eliminated 50 per cent of processed foods, and is cooking scratch lunch twice a week for elementary schools. Claremont is utilizing 100 per cent local (and often organic) fruit, has a "Can-Free” salad bar, is expanding garden education programs, and is Styrofoam-free! With all these innovations, there has been a positive response from students of all grades, school meal participation has increased and revenue has grown.

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Ann Cooper, Nutrition Services Director

Ann has transformed schools meals across the country. In 2009, she founded the non-profit organisation Food, Family, Farming Foundation to help the school food system move from processed to fresh food and launched its first project, The Lunch Box, which supported and aided this change. In 2010, Ann launched an initiative with Whole Foods Market called The Great American Salad Project, which resulted in $1.4 million being raised and a new collaboration with Michelle Obama – the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative. Ann has achieved all this while implementing the Berkeley model for seasonal, fresh sustainable school meals in Boulder as Nutrition Services Director for the Boulder Valley School District, Colorado.

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Robin Vogler, Food Service Program Director

Since her arrival at Somers and Lakeside School District 29 (a school of 560 students; 50 per cent of whom qualified for free or reduced meals) five years ago, Robin has introduced a fresh salad bar and a healthy “grab and go” line. Daily fresh soups and wholemeal rolls are available and chocolate milk has been eradicated. Robin is an avid supporter of farm-to-school programs and negotiates with local farmers where possible to get fresh local produce onto the menu. As a result of her tireless and dedicated efforts, her school recently earned the Healthier Montana Menu Challenge Award.

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Alison Fong, Food Services Director

Alison is a restaurant chef turned Food Services Director. When she started at the Brimmer and May School in Chestnut Hill, her goal was to remove all processed and precooked items and to replace them with locally sourced produce and food made in-house. The task ahead of her seemed impossibly large but Alison started with relatively quick and inexpensive intervention - changing the salad bar. Canned and frozen foods were swapped for fresh ones and wholegrains and legumes were added. This encouraged excitement and support and opened the door to further change, meaning that the food in her school continually improves.