Celebrating Washington’s Winning Cooking up Change Meal

February 23, 2016

Students at Washington High School—and across Chicago Public Schools (CPS)—saw a different kind of meal in the cafeteria last week: a Cajun chicken lettuce wrap, roasted corn relish and deconstructed peach and yogurt pizza.

But this wasn’t just any meal. This nutritious meal was created especially for students by Marshawn, Jalize, Neidy and Natalie—a team of talented culinary students from George Washington High School as part of our Cooking up Change competition.

Cooking up Change challenges high school culinary students to create a healthy and delicious school meal that can be served in a school cafeteria. Cooking up Change is not only fun and educational, it also adds student voices to the national conversation about school food. Through Cooking up Change, these young chefs do more than sharpen their culinary skills; they develop leadership, public speaking and team building skills and create relationships and networks that will last a lifetime.

In addition to the meal being served to all 400,000 CPS students, we held a celebration lunch to honor the students and taste their amazing meal. This event brings together representatives from the Cooking up Change community as well as the school community to reflect on what these students have accomplished. Leaders from CPS, Aramark, the USDA and the Mayor’s office congratulated the students. We also had several members of the media in attendance who told the students’ story. You can see coverage from Hoy, the Chicago Tribune and ABC 7.

“Through their participation in Cooking up Change, students aren’t just learning how to cook, they’re gaining a better understanding of nutrition, health and wellness. And it’s an opportunity for them to inform the menu. At the end of the day, kids are looking for flavor,” said Leslie Fowler, director of nutrition support services at CPS.

Cooking up Change also allows students to create meals that follow nutrition and budget guidelines and can be added to CPS’ menu. “Cooking up Change is an opportunity for students to present their vision for the healthy and delicious meals they’d like to eat in school every day,” said Rochelle Davis, HSC president and CEO.

The Washington team will now go on to compete against teams from across the country in the national finals in Washington, D.C., in June. Student chef Marshawn said the team is excited and ready for that challenge: “We will bring that trophy home to Chicago.”