Interview: Chef Ann Cooper, Renegade Lunch Lady

Reader’s of this blog should not be surprised at the fact that when I was asked to participate in a virtual book tour that was all about celebrating being yourself and strong, kick-ass women, I jumped at the chance!

OK, they didn’t quite use the term kick-ass, but you know me. Let’s just say I came out of the womb marching to the beat of my own drummer.

I am thrilled to share with you an interview with a kick-ass woman, Chef Ann Cooper, as we celebrate the launch of the new children’s book, One of Us.

See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

Known as the Renegade Lunch Lady, Chef Ann Cooper is a celebrated chef, educator, and vocal advocate for better food for all children. Her passion to bring healthy, sustainable food to America’s schools led her to found The Lunch Box, an organization dedicated to helping all schools learn to provide healthy food and educate children and families about nutrition and sustainable eating.

1. When did your interest in food begin – and when did you know you really wanted to make it your career?

I got kicked out of high school, and headed to Telluride, CO to be a ski bum. I talked my way into a breakfast cook position to help pay the bills. And that’s how it all started — I fell in love with food. I fell into what I was meant to do.

2. You manage to bring your personal and professional passions together to do work you love. To me, that’s the brass ring in life. What lessons did you learn growing up to help you create a meaningful life?

I don’t know — I found my passion and I know how special that is. It has allowed me to work all over the world and do cool things. I guess I was lucky, and did not lose sight of that.

3. What’s at stake if America doesn’t change the way our children eat?

  • The planet melting down. I know it sounds dramatic, but if we don’t change kids relationships to food and they don’t understand where it comes from and its impact upon the earth, it amounts to us killing the planet.
  • Kids dying younger than their parents. There is nothing bigger than having a generation get sick….and then becoming the next generation of parents.

4. What advice would you give parents to help turn things around?

  • Turn off the TV!
  • Engage kids around food. Sit down and have dinners, shop with your kids, cook with your kids. Make sure you teach them to know that food doesn’t come plastic wrapped.

“When family meal time is important to us, it will become important to kids.”

5. What advice do you have for young girls or even we big girls who may still be finding our paths?

Don’t compromise. Really make sure you find that thing you love. It’s not about money or stuff, but about doing what you love.  And never be afraid of taking risks. Ever.

6. Give me five (5) traits that describe a person you really admire: Gracious, super smart, life-long learner, someone that understands the importance of giving back, passionate.

To hear more from Chef Ann, watch the TED video below.

As part of this virtual book tour, you can enter to win one of these great prizes!

  • one_of_us A copy of One of Us, signed by author Peggy Moss and illustrator Penny Weber (5 available)
  • A signed print of artwork by illustrator Penny Weber
  • A shirt from the empowering t-shirt company Pigtail Pals

Two ways to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on a participating blog post during the tour (May 17-June 1) — virtual tour list below
  2. Posts a note about the tour on Twitter using the hashtag #bravelybeyou
Bonus: As a special offer to all tour visitors, anyone who visits Choosey Chicks during the tour (May 17-June 1) and enters the code “one of us” will receive 20% their purchase of beautiful, inspiring shirts for women!
Here is the complete schedule:

5/17 – Guest post by Peggy Moss on Neighborbee Blog
5/18 – Feature on Julia Barry from In Her Image
5/19  - Interview with author/educator Lyn Mikel Brown on Pigtail Pals/Redefine Girly
5/20 – Interview with YA author Carrie Jones on Bri Meets Books
5/21 – Interview with One of Us illustrator Penny Weber on Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
5/22 – New Crossword Puzzle on inspiring women, on Miss Trimble’s Trapdoor & an excerpt from Women Who Could…And Did, on
5/23 – Interview with “Renegade Lunch Lady” Chef Ann Cooper, on Grass Stain Guru
5/24 – Post on beauty by plus-size supermodel Sage Salzer
5/25 – Feature with teens Mercy & Emily Carpenter on Girl Zone
5/26 – Guest post by Nancy Gruver on In Her Image
5/27 – Feature on New Moon’s “Beautiful Girls” campaign and “inner beauty tips” written by girls
5/28 – Interview with author Mitali Perkins on Read These Books And Use Them!
5/29 – Video post by Ann Murray Paige, breast cancer survivor, journalist, and star of The Breast Cancer Diaries —
5/30 – Interview with Kelly Parks Snider from Project Girl
5/31 – New comic by Nicole Chaison (author/illustrator of The Passion of the Hausfrau)
6/1 – Twitter Book Party & the official publication date of One of Us!

Get Your Green Thumb On: Free Webinar

A spring scene

Hi all! I am doing a webinar that I would love to have you participate in. I’ll be chatting about gardening with kids over at KaBOOM!. The information about the session is below. Come get dirty with us!

Growing Great Kids: Gardening in Your Playspace

Date and Time: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 3:00 PM EDT, 2:00 PM CDT,

1:00 PM MDT, 12:00 PM PDT

Description: Kids and dirt are a natural fit! Adding a garden to an existing playspace or creating a garden as a stand alone project is great way to enhance the play options in your community, as well as teach children about gardening, nature, and nutrition. This webinar will highlight the benefits of gardening, tips and ideas for design options, and much more.

The webinar is FREE, so I hope you will join me. You will have the ability chat with me and ask questions. If you cannot make it at that time, the webinar will be available for free on demand, so you can watch it at your convenience.

Click here to register and join us!

If you are already registered for Growing Great Kids, click here a few minutes before the webcast.

Hope “to see” you there!

See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

Creative Commons License photo credit: SharkeyinColo

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