First Ever National Real School Food Challenge


Chef Ann Foundation (CAF), a trail-blazing nonprofit dedicated to healthier school food, announced today that 12 chefs across the U.S. are helping bring awareness to the need for school food reform through the Real School Food Challenge: National Restaurant Edition this October. First launched in 2016, the Real School Food Challenge enlists the support of healthy food advocates to show it is possible to create delicious, nutritious food that is scalable for school kitchens.

CAF invited chefs around the country to create meals that follow USDA healthy meal guidelines and have a food cost around $1.25, the average budget for a school lunch in the U.S. As part of this first-ever national Challenge, all of the participating chefs will serve their recipes on their restaurant menu throughout the month of October, with a portion of proceeds donated to CAF. Corporate sponsors RATIONAL USASprouts Farmers MarketOrganic ValleyTundra Restaurant SupplySterling Rice Group and Elevation Foodservice Reps will match the proceeds from each restaurant to help maximize the impact of the Challenge.

Every day, 30 million children eat school lunch. With only $1.25 to spend per student meal, it becomes challenging for schools to serve real, healthy food that meets USDA guidelines. CAF works to provide school communities with the tools, training, resources, and funding that enables them to serve scratch-cooked food using whole ingredients. While celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019, the organization has reached more than 10,000 schools and 3 million kids with their healthy school programming.

“Chefs are getting a lot of attention these days, and it’s so inspiring to see how they are using that notoriety to give back,” said Mara Fleishman, CAF CEO. “Showing America what is capable in school food will bring attention to the work so many of us are doing with school districts, helping them serve healthier, less processed meals.”

CAF has secured participation from chefs who share a vision for better food for children, including:

  • Chef Daniel Asher | River & Woods, Boulder
  • Chef Hosea Rosenberg | Santo, Boulder
  • Chef Alon Shaya | Safta, Denver
  • Chef Charleen Badman | FnB, Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • Chef Stephen Williams | Bouquet Restaurant, Ohio Valley
  • Chef Leonard Hollander | Arbor, Chicago
  • Chef Erik Bruner Yang | &pizza, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, NYC, Boston, Philly, Miami locations
  • Chef Toni Elkhouri | Cedar’s Café, Melbourne, Fla.
  • Chef Gayle Pirie | Foreign Cinema, San Francisco
  • Chef Mihoko Obunai | Hosted by Brush, Atlanta
  • Chef Brandon Rosen | Hosted by CWC The Restaurant, Cincinnati, OH
  • Chef Nathanial Zimet | Boucherie, New Orleans

“I’m so excited to help figure out how to give all kids in the U.S. the nutritious lunches they deserve,” shared Chef Shaya. “In addition to calling awareness to how we can improve school lunches, it’s also an exhilarating challenge for chefs to create delicious and nutritious meals on a low budget.”

The Real School Food Challenge: National Restaurant Edition will kick-off on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. Each chef’s recipe will be added to their menu as part of a fundraiser to support CAF’s ongoing efforts to make real change to the food our children eat at school. Five chef’s recipes will be selected for their creativity, scalability, and presentation, and those finalists will be invited to travel to Brooklyn, N.Y. to compete at StarChefs International Congress on Monday, Oct. 28, sponsored by RATIONAL USA. The Real School Food Challenge competitors will take over the food carts during the Congress Cocktail Party from 6 to 8 p.m. and CAF staff, a jury of school food operators, and local media will select the winning dish, to be announced the following day at 3 p.m. on the main stage.

About the Real School Food Challenge
The first Real School Food Challenge was hosted in Boulder in April 2016, and helped raise $7,500 for CAF. Since that initial Challenge, CAF has partnered with communities and organizations across the U.S. to host six additional Challenges, raising nearly $70,000.

About Chef Ann Foundation
Chef Ann Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working to provide school communities with the tools, training, resources, and funding that enables them to create healthier food and redefine lunchroom environments. To date, the organization has reached more than 10,000 schools and 3 million kids with healthy school programming. Learn more at

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