Rees, who took over the two-year post on Monday, said he knew he wanted the job as soon as he heard that Leith was standing down.
"So much has already been done, but there is still a great deal to do in the next couple of years, particularly with regard to securing Government funding for the school meal service beyond 2011 and continuing to increase the uptake of lunch numbers," he said.
"With the introduction of the new nutritional standards, we now have tasty, wholesome and unbelievably good value school meals in place. Our challenge is now to get that message out to a wider audience and one of the best ways of doing that is by encouraging more children to cook."
Rees, who expects to work more than the three days a month that he has been officially appointed to work, says that he wants to make sure that the importance of school food becomes ingrained into the thinking of local authorities and government departments.
"It is essential that the value of good food at school to the mental health, self-esteem and well-being of our children for many years to come is understood."
Rees, who was appointed an MBE for services to the food industry in 2005, runs a food tour and cookery training business, the Cotswold Chef. He is also chief executive of Wiggly Worm, a charity which uses food projects to help and rehabilitate vulnerable and disadvantaged people.
As well as being a founder member of the School Food Trust board in 2005, Rees is a non-executive director of the Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust and a board member of VisitEngland.
School Food Trust welcomes Government food strategy >> By Janet Harmer
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