On Tuesday, May 9, students around Chicago will see something a little different in the cafeteria. The Cooking up Change winning meal created by student chefs Naheishia, Edgar, Raudel and Jeffrey from Richards Career Academy will be served to all 380,000 students in Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
The meal, Vesuvio Chicken and Spaghetti, Chopped Caesar Salad and Caramelized Pear-pone, is a creative and healthy take on a dish from a popular Italian chain, designed and created by the students. Not only is the meal delicious, but it adheres to all of the requirements of the National School Lunch Program, including price and caloric limits.
And that’s no easy task. “We went through so much to come up with this good, healthy lunch for students,” says Naheishia. “We went through four to six different menus before we came up with this one. I learned to never give up and keep pushing and trying until you get it right.”
The CPS school menu now features a Cooking up Change recipe every month. These meals have proven hugely popular among students. This is a testament to the students’ skill in creating recipes under real-life constraints and their ability to design healthy lunches that are popular with their peers.
Naheishia, Edgar, Raudel and Jeffrey have been hard at work putting the finishing touches on their process and presentation before they head to Washington, D.C., next month to compete against teams from across the county in the Cooking up Change national finals.
The students have also been sharing their meal and their story with the Chicago Board of Education. Later this month, they’ll serve their meal and present to the Illinois State Board of Education.
But the day the meal is served across the district is an opportunity for the student chefs to impress their most challenging critics: their fellow students. And if the response is anything like the response the student chefs got when they taste-tested their meal at their school, their fellow students are going to love it.