Mara Fleishman, CEO of the Chef Ann Foundation, will be speaking at the 4th Annual Washington D.C. Food Tank Summit, “Cultivating the Next Generation of Young Food Leaders."

After moving to Boulder, CO, Mara joined her kindergartener for lunch at school one day. Shocked by the highly processed, high-sugar lunch that she and her daughter were served, she began her crusade to reform school food. Mara worked with a small group of concerned parents and administrators to change their local school food program. Simultaneously, she worked on Whole Foods Market’s first national initiative to support school food reform in her role as Global Director of Partnerships.

In 2013, Fleishman left her position with Whole Foods Market to work on school food reform in a full-time capacity as CEO of the Chef Ann Foundation. With three kids aged 7–16, Mara brings a parent’s awareness to her work and writes about school food through that lens.

Food Tank had the opportunity to speak with Mara about her work, her inspiration, and her vision for school food in America.

FT: How are you helping to build a better food system?

MF: At the Chef Ann Foundation, we help schools move from processed heat-and-serve models to cook-from-scratch programs. In addition to the health benefits for kids from getting freshly cooked meals made with whole ingredients, there is a huge food systems benefit. Helping schools cook from scratch allows them control over ingredient purchases and enables them to use their limited food dollars more strategically; at times, it also enables them to purchase local, cleaner, and more sustainable ingredients.

Read the full article about school food reform by Miranda Carver Martin at Food Tank.