About Cooking up Change


Cooking up Change is a dynamic culinary competition that puts student voices front-and-center in the national dialogue about school food. The contest challenges high school culinary students to create a healthy and delicious school meal their peers will enjoy. The teams must also meet national school food nutrition standards and budget restrictions, and can only use ingredients and equipment commonly found in school kitchens. In addition to spotlighting remarkable student talent, Cooking up Change

brings attention to the challenges of serving fresh, healthy school meals and the need for additional resources for schools.

Healthy Schools Campaign launched Cooking up Change in Chicago in 2007 to engage student chefs and the broader community in addressing the critical changes needed in our nation’s school meal program. Learn more about Cooking up Change.

2013-14 Qualifying Contests


Ten cities across the country hosted Cooking up Change contests this season: Chicago, Houston, Jacksonville, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Memphis, Orange County, Orlando, Wichita and Winston-Salem. Winners from each city will travel to Washington, D.C., for the national finals on June 9 to cook for a national judging panel and raise their voices for healthy school food at a legislative briefing.

National Honorary Co-Chairs


Karen Duncan, Christopher G. Kennedy and Amy Rule are serving as the Cooking up Change National Honorary Co-Chairs. These national leaders bring a powerful voice to promoting healthy eating for all students.

“I am happy to be working with these students to help make their vision for school food a reality in their schools and in schools across the nation.”
Karen Duncan, Wife of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

“I admire their dedication and passion to make a difference in their own lives and their fellow students’ lives.”
Christopher G. Kennedy, Founder of Top Box Foods

“From the kitchen to the classroom, Cooking up Change empowers students to take an active role in their health and wellness.”
Amy Rule, First Lady of the City of Chicago

Cooking up Change Impact


Contest Judges


Our panel of esteemed judges includes chefs, educators, public health experts, policymakers, foundation representatives, advocates and school food experts. Student teams are judged on the originality, taste, appearance and presentation of their school lunch.
This year’s panel includes:

Cathal Armstrong
Chef, Restaurant Eve

Jenella Arter
High School Student, DC Public Schools

Monifa Bandele
Senior Campaign Director, MomsRising

Jim Bender
Executive Director, NEA Health Information Network

Evie Blad
Staff Writer, Education Week

Dr. Jonathan Brice
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education

Karen Duncan
Wife of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
Cooking up Change National Honorary Co-Chair

Kayla Jackson
Project Director, Coordinated School Health, AASA, The School Superintendent’s Association

Eric Kessler
Founder and Managing Director, Arabella Advisors

Dr. Kent McGuire
President and CEO, Southern Education Foundation

Spike Mendelsohn
Chef/owner of Good Stuff Eatery; We, The Pizza; and Béarnaise

Brad Nelson
Corporate Chef, Marriott

Shellie Pfohl
Executive Director, President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

Kathy Reincke
Communications Officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Dr. Janey Thornton
Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Susan Ungaro
President, The James Beard Foundation

Dr. Howell Wechsler
Chief Executive Officer, Alliance for a Healthier Generation

National Sponsors

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