Monday, October 24, 2011

Ann Cooper Rallies Parents in Fairfax for Food Day

"Renegade lunch lady" today in Vienna, Va.

Guest Post

By Ann Cooper

Food Day is such an important event to help draw attention to the broken parts of our food system while celebrating all of the wonderful chefs, cooks, farmers, parents, advocates and food service teams that are working to bring healthy and delicious food to our nation’s children. In honor of National Food Day, Monday, October 24, 2011, I will be joined by local DC chef and fellow sustainable food activist, David Guas, to visit the students at Wolftrap Elementary School in Vienna, Virginia where we will be celebrating Real Food For Kids (RFFK).

Real Food For Kids is an education-based advocacy group of concerned Fairfax County parents who are stepping in to improve the quality of food being served in their schools. What started as a small group of parents has now grown into a community-wide machine. RFFK aims to eliminate the high percentage of processed foods laden with dyes, artificial preservatives, and flavorings as well as trans-fats, high fructose corn syrup and excess sugar and salt. In FCPS schools, a hamburger alone has more than 30 ingredients, while a FCPS quesadilla has over 70.

Chef David Guas, who is moved by Real Food For Kids as both a chef but also as a parent of two young boys in the Northern Virginia school system, wants to help “change, inspire, and teach my sons and our community to go for the natural choice.“ With Fairfax as one of the largest public school counties in the U.S., Real Food For Kids, myself and chef Guas will push for these changes, especially when it comes to school lunches. In fact, at Wolftrap Elementary, Guas and I will work with the students to make a truck-full sized salad and a 10-lb grass-fed beef burger thanks to donations from local Maple Avenue Farms and Whole Foods.

To find out more information on our event and Real Food For Kids, visit us at

And here's this from the organizers:

How many ingredients does it take to make a quesadilla? 70. At least in Fairfax County public school cafeterias. In an effort to draw attention to the link between school food and children’s health and wellness, the Fairfax County Real Food For Kids is heating it up for National Food Day, October 24, at 2:30 pm, Wolftrap Elementary School in Vienna, VA, immediately following a 1:30pm food sourcing and planning meeting with the Fairfax County School Board and special guest, Jeff Mills, Director of Food Service for the District's Public Schools, at the same location. All Fairfax County School Board members and candidates have been invited to attend the Food Day event. The organizing group, a grass-roots organization of Fairfax County parents, hopes to urge the school board to take action on getting “real” food affordably back into Fairfax County public schools. The Wolftrap Elementary School PTA is the premier host for the RealKids.RealFood event on October 24.

The GET REAL! RealKids.RealFood event will feature celebrated author, chef, educator and advocate, The Renegade Lunch Lady Ann Cooper from Colorado and culinary personality and award winning chef, David Guas of Arlington’s Bayou Bakery Coffee Bar & Eatery. Cooper will address the Fairfax County School Board to discuss ways to provide “real” food for students without increasing costs. Chefs Cooper and Guas, working alongside some Fairfax County students, will also create a truck-full sized salad and an over-sized grass-fed beef burger! Bigger is better when it comes to real food for your kids- vegetables and 100% protein, straight from the source.

Two Hundred children, from Fairfax County Schools, are expected to attend and will be sporting GET REAL T-Shirts colored in varied rainbow hues of vegetables and fruits. Each child, in their designated colored T Shirt, will be placed in a specific space to spell out each letter from the words GET REAL. What an incredible image to see the children coming together spread out across the School’s grass field. These kids are showing the way to others that healthy food can be seen in vibrant colors and not so bland.

Local farmer Chris Guerre of Maple Avenue Farm is donating over 50 pounds of grass-fed beef, lettuce, tomatoes for the salad (to feed 250) and Chef Tim Ma, owner of Maple Avenue Restaurant, is coming out to lend a culinary hand while doing all the cooking on his portable truck. Whole Foods Market is a lead sponsor for the event, providing free healthy snack vouchers, butternut squash soup to sample for participating students as well as other donations to secure a successful event.

Urging School Board members to come to the table to discuss the problems of childhood obesity and school food that is highly processed, artificial, preserved and dyed, Real Food for Kids’ JoAnne Hammermaster says, “Children deserve healthier choices while they are at school.”

Hammermaster also notes that the group is pleased to be part of a major new campaign that involves some of the most prominent voices for change in the food policy world. Organized by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day, a nation-wide event, will encourage people around the country to sponsor or participate in activities that encourage Americans to "eat real" and support healthy, affordable food grown in a sustainable, humane way. Food Day is modeled on Earth Day and is led by honorary co-chairs Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).

Real Food For Kids ( has also developed a Food Day education program for Fairfax County Schools, to be disseminated through participating PTAs. For more information, contact JoAnne Hammermaster at or 703-581-3085.

2:00 pm – School children arrive please
2:30 pm - Children will spell out GET REAL for photo opportunities.
2:45 pm - Speakers and Cooking Demonstration
3:15 pm - Salad, soup, and other healthy snacks are distributed to the audience.


Wolftrap Elementary School – 1903 Beulah Road, Vienna, Virginia 22182 (it is near the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts)

For More Information:
Simone Rathle- 703.534.8100

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