WASHINGTON (Sept. 10, 2009) — Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI), a leader in natural and organic foods, and Chef Ann Cooper, the nation’s “renegade lunch lady,” are working to help transform lunch in schools across the country by kicking off the “School Lunch Revolution” awareness tour today in Washington, D.C.
Cooper and Whole Foods Market Co-President and Chief Operating Officer Walter Robb will speak to key influencers about the “School Lunch Revolution” program, asking community members to get involved and government officials to consider more rigorous nutrition guidelines as they prepare to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act.
“There is a role for everyone when it comes to getting fresher, healthier school lunches served in our schools,” said Robb. “We are engaging everyone on this issue – from parents learning to pack healthier lunches, to our customers donating to the cause, to our Team Members getting involved at their local schools, and with key community groups, to elected officials interested in prompting real change.”
Robb and Cooper begin today with a press conference and community discussion at 10:30 a.m. at the Tenley Whole Foods Market store at 4530 40th St. N.W. Afterward, they will meet with USDA officials to discuss the National School Lunch Program by calling attention to: o The need to go beyond dietary guidelines when updating school lunch nutrition standards; o More focus on fresh, natural whole foods with fewer artificial ingredients such as colorings, flavorings and trans fats (hydrogenated oils); and o A greater emphasis on local food.
Cooper will underscore the need to dedicate an additional $1 per day per child to the School Lunch Program and advocate for universal breakfast and lunch provided to all students, which would allow schools to have more time to focus on better nutrition planning and meal preparation as it would eliminate enormous administrative and accounting burdens.
“We must help schools transition from highly processed foods to more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and animal protein raised without added growth hormones and antibiotics,” said Cooper. “There is real momentum around creating the very best education for our children. That starts with ensuring that children are ready to learn. Good nutrition for every child is an essential ingredient for success. My ultimate goal is to educate and inspire schools, parents and students to take bold steps to improve the quality of education by making better food choices.”
Cooper’s nonprofit, F3: Food Family Farming Foundation, created the free online resource center —www.thelunchbox.org. Whole Foods Market kicked off a donation drive by contributing and then its customers got engaged and have donated more than $400,000 to develop this valuable resource.
“We’re so excited and grateful that our customers have embraced the opportunity to get involved. In five weeks, we’ve been able to raise more than $400,000 through our check outs,” said Robb. “This allows Chef Ann’s Foundation to offer easily accessible, free resources for all schools. These tools will help them duplicate the success that Ann has created in Berkeley, Harlem and now Boulder.”
Whole Foods Market is pleased to announce that its more than 270 U.S. stores have committed to reaching out to schools and organizations in the communities they serve, to find ways to work together to ensure better nutrition at lunchtime. Work already underway includes stores in D.C. that created a multi-faceted partnership with the metro-area YMCA that includes both healthy eating and fitness components. Other partners in the D.C. include the Capital Area Food Bank Kids Café program and Manna Food Center.
After Washington, D.C., the School Lunch Revolution awareness tour will continue to Bethesda, Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago and Houston. Chef Cooper will be featured in a series of talks and panel discussions on the subject, including:
- Sept. 10: 5:30 p.m. – YMCA on Old Georgetown Rd, Bethesda, Md.
- Sept. 14: 6:30 p.m. – Morningside Elementary School, Atlanta
- Sept. 15: 12:30 p.m. – Belcourt Theatre, Nashville
- Sept. 16: 9 a.m. – Whole Foods Market Kingsbury, Chicago
- Sept. 24: 6 p.m. — Tinsley Elementary School, Houston