A Summer at the Chef Ann Foundation: What One Intern Learned

Friday, September 6th, 2019

For the second year in a row, the Casey Feldman Foundation has sponsored a summer intern at the Chef Ann Foundation. Learn why Ally Roberts chose to be a School Food Reform Intern and what she learned during her stay this summer.

By Allison Roberts, School Food Reform Intern, Summer 2019

Growing up, I remember food made me feel lethargic, bloated, and anything but energized. Following the summer of my sophomore year of high school, I discovered a slew of food allergies and sensitivities that, once I took into account (in conjunction with eating healthier, whole foods), transformed both my physical and mental health. This realization of the stark correlation between physical and mental health fueled my decision to study Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. When I learned about the Chef Ann Foundation (CAF) through CU’s Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE) program, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to explore the nonprofit world, learn the intricacies of school food, and gain a deeper understanding of the undeniable impact food can have on the minds and bodies of children.

I quickly learned that the school food world is complex, multifaceted, and also a really exciting place for innovation and positive change. Through programs like Get Schools CookingSalad Bars to Schools, and the School Food Institute, CAF sits in a unique niche area of school food reform, with a focus on working with food service directors and staff to implement sustainable changes to their procurement practices, finances, marketing, and more—all to provide kids with access to healthier, scratch-cooked food.

Throughout my role as the School Food Reform Intern, I hoped to challenge myself and learn as much as possible about the nonprofit sector and more specifically the Chef Ann Foundation. With a group of passionate, unyielding, caring, and driven co-workers, it was easy to dive in to projects and help out in any way I could. To highlight a few specific experiences: it was incredibly rewarding to help integrate Spanish subtitles into our current School Food Institute online courses, as this will be a huge step in increasing accessibility for school food workers who speak Spanish. Additionally, my work with the development team on our Real School Food Challenge event not only taught me valuable skills in outreach and event logistics, but showed me the power of generosity and how communal support is integral to deep-seated change. Outside the office, I had the privilege of sitting in on our board meeting at the Google campus, attending a conference on Youth Health Policy and Wellness, learning more about Slow Food, and spreading the word about CAF at the Colorado School Nutrition Association conference.

Without the support of the Casey Feldman Foundation through the CU PIIE program, and the incredible people working at CAF, such a transformative, growth-filled and unique experience would not have been possible. After 12 weeks at the Chef Ann Foundation, the correlation I see between child nutrition, child health, and performance in school has been further solidified. When children eat calorie-dense, yet nutrient-deficient meals, their concentration, grades, and mood are all compromised. It is imperative to have organizations like the Chef Ann Foundation to lay the foundational groundwork for better school food practices. This summer allowed me to see the complexities of school food and both how far we have come and how far we still have to go. Here’s to healthier minds and bodies for children!

Ally Roberts with Casey Feldman Foundation founders Joel Feldman and Dianne Anderson at the PIIE recognition dinner in August

My Memorable Internship Experience Made Possible by the Casey Feldman Foundation

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

By Heidi Stimac

For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in working in the nonprofit sector. I love the idea that my professional work could contribute to improving the lives of others but, had no idea how to get my foot in the door. So when I heard about the Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE) program at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) my junior year, I was excited to say the least. The PIIE program at CU is a competitive one where students apply to the program, and if accepted, they get matched with a nonprofit or government agency for a summer internship. I learned about the program only a couple of days before the 2018 application deadline and luckily I was accepted and matched up with my first choice organization, the Chef Ann Foundation. All of the organizations with which PIIE students are matched do not have the resources to pay a student intern and funding from the Casey Feldman Foundation enabled me to be paid for my work at this tremendous organization.

The Chef Ann Foundation is a Boulder-based nonprofit that provides schools with tools, resources, and grants that help them provide healthy and scratch-cooked meals to their students. I remember feeling so lucky that I was able to intern at an organization with such an amazing mission, and I have the PIIE program and the Casey Feldman Foundation to thank! During my time at Chef Ann, I got to work events, write blogs, do research, compile data, and so much more. While I am so grateful for the professional skills and tools I learned during my time at Chef Ann, I am even more grateful to have been a part of such an incredible team at the organization.

While the Chef Ann Foundation has national reach with programs in all 50 states, the team is relatively small. We had between 7-9 employees working out of our office at any given time. But while the team was small in numbers, it was big in heart. The folks at Chef Ann worked tirelessly to achieve the mission of the organization. I was consistently inspired by the tenacity of my small group of coworkers. Their ability to think big and commit themselves to the mission was something I doubt I’ll ever forget. Chef Ann Foundation became a family to me. My internship started out as a summer gig through the PIIE program, but as the end of last summer approached I was asked to stay on as a part-time intern during my senior year at CU Boulder.

In my nine months at Chef Ann Foundation, I learned more than I ever thought I would. I came away from my internship their with a deep understanding of the type of professional environment I want to be part of in the future. At Chef Ann, we lifted each other up, encouraged each other, and worked toward a common goal. I could not have asked for more from my summer internship at Chef Ann Foundation.

This fall, I am heading off to King’s College London to pursue a Master’s degree in Emerging Economies and International Development. I’m not sure where this new endeavor will take me professionally, but I know that when I begin the career search, I’ll be looking for an environment like that of the Chef Ann Foundation. I can’t thank the PIIE program and the Casey Feldman Foundation enough for making this experience possible for me!

With the Chef Ann Foundation team on the last day of my internship