Lunch Lessons LLC

Ann Cooper and Beth Collins

Lunch Lessons LLC, co-owned by Chefs Ann Cooper and Beth Collins, brings a uniquely qualified team to projects spanning food systems, culinary, finance and business services, and school district administration experience.

Ann and Beth have worked together since 2000, bringing their private-sector backgrounds in business and food to the school food arena. Their hands-on experience in school district transition brings to their assessments the distinct experience of having “been there” through the challenges presented as districts and community partners consider large scale school food system change. This lens of experience allows for a realistic understanding of the complex relationships that exist in school districts and what kinds of goals and results are realistic, given the unique conditions of each district. Having guided over 50 districts in systemic change, training a network of school food specialists, and working with many organizations focused on this work places Lunch Lessons at the forefront of school food innovation in the United States.

Our Approach and Philosophy

Our approach is assessment based, gathering a combination of data analysis, interviews and observation.  This data from the assessment creates the building blocks. It clearly defines the current state of a district and helps to identify areas of opportunity.  The outcome of the analysis provides “next steps” for the district and becomes the cornerstone for strategic planning to address the desired outcomes.

Our philosophy is that no two districts are exactly alike, but all food service operations share similar systems. Because of our years of on-the-ground operational experience paired with detailed knowledge of school food service operations we can deliver a strategic plan to meet any district’s needs. But the real key to success is simple question, yet not always easy to answer – Are they ready? Readiness is not a defined condition that we can measure, but there are indicators to determine if a district is a realistic candidate for change. We can change the food, but we cannot guarantee if the district and its community is “ready” to accept it.

Indicators for Readiness:

  • Who is ready; the school board, parents, students, administration, staff?
  • Whose vision is driving change?
  • Is the community involved?
  • Can change be sustained?
  • Is it financially viable?

Ann Cooper

Chef Ann Cooper is an internationally recognized author, chef, educator, public speaker, and advocate of healthy food for all children. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Ann has been a chef for more than 40 years, over 20 of those in school food programs. 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. 

Ann expanded her commitment to improving school food in 2009 by establishing the Chef Ann Foundation (CAF), with a mission dedicated to empowering schools nationwide with tools, training, resources, and funding needed to serve healthy, whole-food-based meals. 

Also known as the “Renegade Lunch Lady,” Chef Ann is the former Director of Food Services for Boulder Valley School District in Boulder, Colorado (11 years),  and Food Services Director of Berkeley Unified School District in Berkeley, California (5 years). Via Lunch Lessons, Chef Ann has worked with Chef Beth to provide consulting services to school districts with a desire to innovate their foodservice programs for the last 15 years.  Chef Ann is currently based out of Grand Junction, Colorado. 

Beth Collins

Chef Beth Collins has been supporting school district change through assessments, strategic planning, technical assistance, workshops, and interim leadership roles since 2006.  Driven by a passion for local foods and a strong interest in food system change, Beth started her culinary career in New York City in 1995, learning her craft from Chefs Lidia Bastianich and Michel Nishan before heading to East Hampton, NY in 2000 to feed students simply prepared, fresh, locally grown food at the Ross School with Chef Ann. Their shared experience at the Ross School led Beth and Ann into the public sector where they have worked to support public school districts in transitioning ready-to-heat food programs to sustainable scratch-cooked systems bringing fresh, real food to all kids in schools. 

Chef Beth has been anchoring the onsite assessment process for Lunch Lessons since its inception and has been a leader in developing strategies for districts of all sizes to identify their path to change. From 2009 to 2017 she served as a key founding member of the Chef Ann Foundation in the role of Executive Director and Director of Operations. From 2017 to 2020 Chef Beth focused on establishing the Get Schools Cooking program and performed 17 assessments for the Chef Ann Foundation. Chef Beth continues to support special projects at the Foundation and consults around the United States from her home base in Traverse City, Michigan. 

Start System Innovation Within Your School Food Service

Contact Lunch Lessons, LLC