Avis Gold Richards – BAO Bad Ass Legend


Avis Gold Richards – BAO Bad Ass Legend

Posted by Kim Johnson on May 15, 2011

Avis Gold Richards uses her passion, skill and artistic vision to make a difference in the world.  She founded Birds Nest Foundation™, a non-profit creative group that produces high-quality documentaries, short videos and public service announcements (PSAs) for charitable organizations.  Among her many activities, Avis is currently producing a public television series entitled “Lunch NYC” for NYC Media. The series exposes unhealthy foods being served in the public school system across the country and highlights the efforts of individuals actively seeking alternatives to promote nutrition and health.   Leveraging your passion for the betterment of the community is the stuff of a true BAO Bad Ass Legend.



AVIS RICHARDS’s PROFILE @ Culture Unplugged


AVIS RICHARDS’s PROFILE @ Culture Unplugged


Avis Richards


I am a a graduate of the University of Maryland where I earned my B.S. degree. I pursued my post-graduate studies at George Washington University and Bank Street College of Education. I live with my husband, two children, and three dogs in New York City. 

Right now in my life, I am devoted to giving back and helping people live a happy and healthy life. I am the Founder and CEO of Birds Nest Foundation™, a 501(c)3 non-profit creative group that produces high-quality documentaries, short videos and public service announcements (PSAs) for charitable organizations. I have produced and directed over 50 films, multiple websites and events. I am also the Founder of The “Ground Up Campaign™” which provides indoor academic gardens for schools throughout the nation. 

I also enjoy being on the Board of Directors for HELP USA (homes for the homeless and less fortunate), Sophie’s Voice (Spina Bifida), Bat for the Cure (prostate cancer), Earth Day Network (the environment), and the R Baby Foundation (infant mortality). I am a member of the Advisory Board of Joe Torre’s Safe At Home Foundation (domestic violence), Cancer Schmancer (breast cancer early detection), and Mobile Movement (mobile philanthropy). in addition, I am a “Game Ball” recipient for the Boomer Esiason Foundation (Cystic Fibrosis), a Peloton Project member for the Lance Armstrong Foundation (cancer), and served as an Excalibur award member for the American Cancer Society for which I was the Gala Event Chair. 

Furthermore, I have produced a public television series entitled “LunchNYC” for NYC Media, part of the City of New York Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting, after the successful launch of our short documentary, LUNCH, which was sponsored in part by Earth Day Network. The film exposes unhealthy foods being served in the public school system across the country and highlights the efforts of individuals actively seeking alternatives to promote nutrition and health. 

Documentary decries the food on school lunch trays

Avis_Richards_LATimesSchool lunch seems to be on everybody’s agendas these days, from First Lady Michelle Obama to chefs like Alice Waters and Jamie Oliver, to politicians being asked to spend a little more, to advocates and business people who say they can do a better job than the government.

A documentary called “Lunch” takes a pretty dim view of the National School Lunch Program, which feeds about 30 million children. It quotes doctors, advocates, parents and teachers –- many of whom decry the fast-food style of food they see on lunch trays.

“Kids aren’t born with an innate desire for hamburgers,” says Margot Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

The documentary, made by Avis Richards, paints a frightening picture of childhood obesity and diseases related to food, before it offers some hope in the work being done to bring more produce and less processed food into cafeterias. The film gives credit in particular to the Baltimore school district, which has worked hard to reform its school meals program.

For_LA_TimesThe film was made by Richards’ nonprofit media company, Birds Nest Productions; it toured some festivals this year and is scheduled to be shown in December at the Artivist festival, she said. And she is working with the Earth Day Network (Richards served on the Earth Day board) to turn the topic into aseries that premiered this month on New York City’s official television network. “Even the best private schools” fail to serve healthy lunches, Richards said in an interview. “Everybody needs education on this issue.”

Los Angeles Times Daily Dish Blog

Q&A: Avis Richards, Producer, LunchNYC

Avis_GreenRealEstateDailyOn October 3, the 12-part LunchNYC series launched on the NYC Life channel-giving New Yorkers a good look at the way they “do lunch,” whether it involves fast food on-the-go or sustainable, organic, and healthy food produced locally or regionally. MetroGreenBusiness.com caught up with LunchNYC producer Avis Richards for a behind-the-scenes look.

Q: How did this series come into being?

A: We had our documentary “Lunch,” which focused solely on school lunches in Baltimore. The idea was brought to NYC Media and, in expanding it to a series, we really wanted to focus on all the positive things happening in New York when it comes to food and healthy initiatives in general. New York is really the forbearer for changes in food culture in a lot of ways-with many other cities looking to us-so it made sense to try and cover the entire spectrum of all the good work going on in New York.

avis-richardsQ: What is the predominant audience you’re trying to reach? People whose work lives are intense, and for whom everything-including eating and exercising-takes a back seat to their jobs? Parents? Kids?

A: The show is really for the whole family. While episodes and segments are informative and contain lots of information, we try to make the show fun and engaging for kids as well. We have everything from informative segments on city health policy, to a doctor that sings songs about eating healthy for kids. The hope is that the show will start a dialogue between parents and their kids, which is one of the most important aspects of learning to live a healthy lifestyle.

Q: What’s the one thing that you’d like your New York viewers to take away from the show?

A: That there are tons of ways to get involved and seek out healthy options in this city. We’ve found that in every neighborhood, something positive is going on, and it’s important for all New Yorkers to know that healthy options are out there for them.

Q: The series features visits to rooftop gardens and a Brooklyn. Do you think such places are well known? Will they be surprising to viewers?

A: The most surprising aspect of the Urban Farming episode isn’t the fact that farms and community gardens exist in New York, it’s the amount and variety of what they can produce. I think, for many, the idea of growing and creating a sustainable ecosystem for food in New York is a lark, but there are people out there [doing it]. It’s happening right now.

Q: How did producing the series impact the way that you do lunch in New York-both in general and while you were shooting? Was take-out ordered more mindfully at all? Has it made you work out differently?

A: Well, it’s funny. One of the benefits-perks, I guess you would call it-in shooting at all these fresh, organic, healthy restaurants is that the owners, chefs, everybody [is] just so happy to get the message out, that we’ve been able to sample food everywhere we go. It gets to a point where, after shooting four locations in a day, it’s like, “I’m full, no more food.” But it’s so good. And amazing how good for you it is.

Q: When you were looking for subjects to feature on the show, did you find more or less or exactly what you expected in number and quality and commitment?

A: A lot of that was through research, but there’s so much out there in New York. When people heard about what we were doing, they immediately wanted to get involved. And they all had connections to more and more organizations and people. It’s really like this support network of healthy initiatives. Everyone’s aware of what everyone is doing, and they’re all willing to help each other out. We’re all on the same team.


Filmmaker Shines Spotlight on School Lunches

Avis_RichardsWSJAvis and Bruce Richards are putting their money where their mouths are.
The documentary filmmaker and her husband, president of Marathon Asset Management, have created a documentary short called “Lunch,” which examines what children are eating through the National School Lunch Program and advocates for healthier meals in schools.
Ms. Richards is now adapting the $300,000 endeavor, created by the Richardses’ non-profit media company Birds Nest Productions in partnership with the Earth Day Network, to create a 12-show television series to air this fall on NYC Media, a radio, TV and online network for New York City.
“Parents have a hard time juggling everything for their kids and most have no idea how poorly they eat at school,” says Ms. Richards, a mother of two. “We want to put that information out there to give kids and parents options.” When describing school lunches, Ms. Richards says most plates are a vision of white, consisting of sugar cookies, macaroni and cheese, pizza or mashed potatoes.
Children grow up “in a junk-food culture, causing obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes,” she says. “We want to change that.”

For_Wall_Street_JournalThe documentary explores alternatives to the hamburger hegemony, interviewing farmers and community leaders about their efforts to change what schools serve children. It was shown at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington and was selected to play at the Independents’ Film Festival in Florida and the International Film Festival of South Africa. The documentary also shows in Whole Foods Markets across the country.
Through “Lunch NYC” for NYC Media, Ms. Richards is going into dozens of schools across New York City to spotlight unhealthy foods served in public schools and highlighting schools that are experimenting with organic and locally-grown foods. She also plans to host a celebrity chef cook-off to see who can make the best meal for less than 97 cents, the amount Ms. Richards estimates New York City’s Department of Education spends on each school lunch.
“Lunch” is one of more than 50 films Ms. Richards has produced and directed since starting her nonprofit production company in 2006. Her work includes projects for the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education and Sophie’s Voice Foundation, a charity that raises money for medical procedures for people with spina bifida, a neurological disorder.
Ms. Richards estimates that charities often spend up to $70,000 to create short films for documentaries, public-service announcements or videos to air at gala events. So the money can instead go toward programs, Ms. Richards says she produces films for free or without a labor charge. “We have to give nonprofits a voice,” says Ms. Richards, who doesn’t take a salary for her work. “They can’t afford it otherwise.”