Eight teams of high school student chefs gathered in Washington, DC to face off in the Cooking up Change national finals!
Student chefs brought their voices (and creative cooking skills) to the nation’s capital! On June 10, student chefs from Chicago, Denver, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Memphis, Orange County, St. Louis and Winston-Salem traveled to Washington, D.C. to face off in the Cooking up Change national finals.
These students created healthy, great-tasting school meals while dealing with the constraints faced by school food service programs: strong nutrition standards, a tight budget, and limited ingredients. After winning local qualifying competitions, they traveled to D.C. to present their meals to a panel of judges.
These remarkable students from Valley High School impressed the judges and the audience with their creative meal of “Pita-Packs-a-Punch,” a pita filled with ground turkey and colorful veggies served with a side of hot and sweet slaw, and apple crêpes. “I think it’s easier said than done to make the change to healthy food, but as long as we keep pushing and keep insisting, people will see that we need this change in order to help our community,” said Carlos Ortiz, one of the student chefs from the winning Orange County team.
In a powerful opportunity for students to see first-hand how their voices can transform the future of school food, one dish from each team's meal was served at a briefing for Congress on June 11, and the students shared their experience in Cooking up Change and their perspective on the importance of healthy school food. The briefing was presented by HSC and The Pew Charitable Trusts and co-sponsored by Rep. Tom Latham (IA) and Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC). Rep. Latham provided welcoming remarks and outlined the need to invest in school kitchen facilities so that children can eat fresh, healthy and delicious meals at school and be better prepared to learn.
We are thrilled that Karen Duncan, Christopher G. Kennedy and Amy Rule are serving as National Honorary Co-Chairs of Cooking up Change. These wonderful leaders bring a unique and powerful voice to promoting healthy eating for all students.
"I admire that these students have found such passion, creativity and vision for making good food, and I thank them for focusing this talent on school food."
Karen Duncan, Wife of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
"I admire their dedication and passion to bring that fight directly into their schools and make a difference in their own lives and their fellow students’ lives."
Chris 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 is much more than a culinary competition; it is an important vehicle for building strong support for healthier school food and student wellness at the local and national levels. Our diverse panel of esteemed judges included chefs, educators, public health experts, policymakers, foundation representatives, advocates and school food experts. Student teams were judged on the originality, taste, appearance and presentation of their school lunch.
Chartwells School Dining Services
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
U.S. Department of Education
Cooking up Change National Honorary Co-chair
Victoria Jordan Rodriguez
The James Beard Foundation
Hank’s Oyster Bar
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
American Federation of Teachers
JoAnne Lyons Wooten
American School Health Association
National Association of School Nurses
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Prince George’s County Public Schools
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Center for Science in the Public Interest
The Cooking up Change National Healthy Cooking Contest was generously sponsored by Platinum Sponsor Chartwells School Dining Services; Silver Sponsors American Federation of Teachers, Chipotle and T-Fal; Official Travel Partner Southwest Airlines; and Official Culinary Partner James Beard Foundation.
Thank you to FAME Food Management, Inc. and The Pew Charitable Trusts for sponsoring the events on June 10. We’d also like to thank the U.S. Department of Education for hosting.
Interested in becoming a sponsor? We welcome national and local sponsors to join us! Learn more about sponsorship opportunities.