Today, We’re Cooking up Change in D.C.!

June 08, 2015

It’s about to get hot in the Department of Education kitchen! Today, nine teams of student chefs — all winners of their local Cooking up Change contests — will compete for the national title in Washington, D.C.

These talented teams of student chefs from across the country will be preparing a variety of dishes from Cowboy Cajun Chicken Lollipop to Yummy Lo Mein and Slamming Collard Greens to Miyabi Japanese Onion Soup for an esteemed panel of judges including national policymakers, nutrition experts and celebrity chefs.

Cooking up Change is a dynamic culinary competition that challenges student chefs to create healthy school meals that their peers enjoy and that meet the national nutrition standards for school food. But the competition is more than just creating delicious and healthy school meals. The contest also brings student voices front and center in the debate about school meal nutrition standards.

“We’re incredibly impressed by and proud of the Cooking up Change National Finals qualifiers. Being here in Washington, DC, means they’re already winners,” said Healthy Schools Campaign President and CEO Rochelle Davis. “These students are doing much more than taking part in a cooking competition; they’re showing us the way toward solving the political debate over school food. While working within the constraints of the national nutrition standards, they’ve created healthy school meals that their peers love. By taking a page out of their cookbook, we can make healthy and delicious school meals a reality for all students.”

Each Cooking up Change student-designed meal complies with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) school nutrition standards for calories, fat and sodium content, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, including side dishes, which meet USDA Smart Snacks in Schools standards. Meals are judged on their originality, taste, texture and appearance. Teams score additional points for the quality of their presentation to the judges.

Proving that creative, delicious meals that meet these criteria is especially important this year as the Child Nutrition Act (currently called the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act) is up for reauthorization and various groups are working to try and roll back the standards.

We’re so proud of these students chefs, and we know they’re about to cook up something amazing.

Meet the 2015 Cooking up Change finals competitors and their meals:

Marshall Metropolitan High School – Chicago, IL
Da’ovan B., Autumn G., Zykeria P.
Menu: Haitian Spice Chicken, Slamming Collard Greens and Pineapple Surprise Parfait

Breithaupt Career and Technical Center – Detroit, MI
Alondra G., Guillermo G., Jennifer M.
Menu: Rio Chicken Wrap, Sunset in Hawaii and Tutti Fruity Parfait

Westside High School – Houston, TX
Jose A., Jalien N., Briseida S.
Menu: Cowboy Cajun Chicken Lollipop, Twisted Texas Cabbage and Collard Greens, and Pineapple Tart

Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology – Jacksonville, FL
Alyssa M., Bradley P., Hali H.
Menu: Chicken Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce, Greek Cucumber Salad and Citrus Parfait

Memphis Health Careers Academy – Memphis, TN
Raijeen D., Shanterica R., TyJuan T.
Menu: Explosive Chimichanga Surprise, Sensational Salad Blast and Apple Cinnamon Delight

Westminster High School – Orange County, CA
Elizabeth C., Shae D., Jonathan Q.
Menu: Mexican Chicken Street Tacos, Motherland Esquite and Peachin’ Empanada

Wekiva High School – Orlando, FL
Lauren E., Andy O., Anthony Truong
Menu: Chicken Fried Rice, Miyabi Japanese Onion Soup and Peanut Butter Banana

Eastern Senior High and School Without Walls – Washington, DC
Tatyanna C., Dion H., Ay O.
Menu: Yummy Lo Mein with Colorful Salad and Sweet Peach Applesauce

Heights High School – Wichita, KS
Shaneen A., Olivia C., Colleen H.
Menu: BBQ Chicken Pinwheels, Roasted, Spiced Potatoes and Green Beans and Peach Crunch with Vanilla Drizzle

Last but not least, we extend huge thanks to everyone who’s helped make this event possible — especially our sponsors: National Partner Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project, National School Nutrition Partner Aramark, Official Travel Partner Southwest Airlines, Official Culinary Partner James Beard Foundation and National Silver Sponsor American Federation of Teachers.