What would you pay to ensure that your kids got healthy food in school? Boulder Valley School District’s School Food Project got $48,000 closer to that goal through its second annual farm dinner fundraiser.
Chef Ann Cooper’s mission is crystal clear, and she’s not shy about saying it: We need to “stop killing our children with food” in schools, replacing junk food with healthy, fresh, sustainable options. Last week, at the 2nd annual School Food Project’s sumptuous dinner at Pastures of Plenty organic farm north of Boulder, community support for this cause in Boulder Valley schools meant raising our auction paddles high, bidding on foodie-centric offerings like culinary tours of Washington, D.C., and New Orleans. When the dust settled, the haul from the dinner, silent auction, and live auction totaled close to $48,000 -- nearly $3,000 over goal, “so we’re as happy as organic peaches,” said Sylvia Tawse, Pastures of Plentyco-owner.
This fundraiser channels 100 percent of proceeds directly to the School Food Project, a two-year-old initiative. So far, SFP has succeeded in getting salad bars installed at every district school, which serves 28,000 students; future plans include installing school kitchens for fresh food prep and replacing disposables with reusable plates and utensils.
At the annual farm dinner, raising awareness matters as much as raising money. “The goal was really to showcase what we do,” says Cooper. “People will remember that we run Rainbow Days and that we’re trying to switch to all reusables--and that’s pretty big because most schools can’t say that.”
Aside from the worthiness of the cause, I was certainly drawn by the prospect of a farm-fresh, organic meal cooked up by Bradford Heap of Salt and Colterra, and Lyle Davis, Pastures of Plenty co-owner and Big Bang Catering genius (both parents of BVSD kids). And what a feast it was! My favorite dishes included Heap’s risotto with Hazel Dell mushrooms, black quinoa salad with roasted beets and sherry vinaigrette, and Davis’ signature wood-oven-roasted pork loin over arugula, figs, and caramelized onions -- all crafted with locally sourced, mostly organic ingredients and topped off for dessert with Seth Ellis chocolates and Bhakti Chai ice cream.
“It’s really great to see the community support that we have,” says Cooper. But her sights are set on nothing less than sweeping national change. “My goal is that every single child every day in America will have access to delicious, healthy food,” she says firmly.
Are we making progress? “We’re moving in that direction, but we still have a long way to go,” she says. “You can’t listen to the news or read the paper or be online without hearing about this, and ten years ago when I started that wasn’t true. But there’s still a lot of chicken nuggets and tater tots out there.”