Cooking up Change: What’s New This Year?

October 28, 2009 | Written By:

Cooking up Change, HSC's annual benefit and healthy cooking contest, is tomorrow!

years ago, HSC began to include a spotlight on local high school
students studying culinary arts at our annual benefit; now, that
spotlight has evolved to become an exciting
culinary competition in
teams of very talented young chefs from 15 public high schools
across the city compete to create healthy, tasty school meals that meet
nutrition standards on a tight budget. Their winning meals are served
across the city and beyond, highlighting the power of student
engagement in healthy change and the need for reform in our school food

Cooking up Change is also a celebration, a time to
connect with others
who care about food, our environment and children's health.

Every year, it seems that Cooking up Change becomes even more exciting. So what's new this year?

  • Frozen local produce! This year for the first time,
    student teams will incorporate local produce in the school meals they
    create. This may surprise some who know that the students are limited
    to ordering their food from the same ingredient lists available to
    their school cafeteria managers. But it's true: the student chefs, like
    the food service managers in their schools, now have access to locally-grown produce to include in their school meals. The fruits and
    vegetables, all grown within 150 miles of Chicago, are flash-frozen
    within 48 hours of their harvest, locking in vital nutrients and —
    perhaps just as important to a chef — the unique great flavor of
    freshly-picked, locally-grown food. The produce is part of Cooking up
    Change Gold sponsor
    Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality's frozen local
    program.  Through this program, Chartwells-Thompson provides local
    produce for lunch in all Chicago Public Schools several days a week.
    Now the teams of student chefs at Cooking up Change will have access to
    this tasty, bright produce for their entries in the culinary

  • Cookie-preneur award! Successful bakers know that it
    takes more than flavor to make a cookie successful. A cookie that
    stands apart from the crowd in a bakery or store shelf has to look
    appealing, stand up to transportation without crumbling, have a reasonable shelf life — it even
    needs a descriptive, enticing name. Kenny Muncic, owner of
    Cookie-preneur sponsor
    Little Miss Muffin Bakery, will consider these
    characteristics and more as he selects this year's Cookie-preneur
    winners from among all the student teams' healthy cookies. Little Miss
    will be prepared to manufacture the winning cookie and pitch it to wholesale customers to be sold in stores across Chicago.

  • Elevated national profile! This year, all eyes are on
    Cooking up Change! The students from last year's winning team traveled
    to Washington, DC to prepare their meal with Sam Kass, chef to the
    Obama family, at a briefing on the future of school food. On the same
    day, their meal was served to more than 40,000 students nationwide and
    in the House of Representatives cafeteria. The young chefs and their
    fabulous meal garnered the attention of
    The Washington Post, CNN News,, Mindful Metropolis and
    the popular blog
    Obama Foodorama. This year, the Cooking up Change
    judging panel includes influential leaders such as David Lazarus,
    senior advisor to the Secretary of the USDA. The meals that the
    students create will be part of a national dialogue on the future of
    school food, particularly as part of HSC’s advocacy for a strong
    reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, the federal legislation
    that provides funding and guidelines for school meals.

thrilled about these exciting additions to the healthy cooking contest
and can't wait to try the student's creations on Thursday!

You can
learn more online at


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