Back to school means back to school food. But for Chicago culinary students, the meals they’re cooking up in their school kitchens are anything but routine. Forget chicken nuggets and pizza; think curry cucumber salad and chicken shawarma.
Cooking up Change challenges Chicago high school culinary students to create healthy, great-tasting meals that meet the real-life requirements of the national school meal program. Cooking up Change serves up life-changing opportunities, helps students realize their own potential and puts student voices front and center in the national dialogue about school food.
Healthy Schools Campaign launched Cooking up Change in 2007, and more than 750 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students have participated in the program and millions of Cooking up Change meals have been served in schools. Since 2007, CPS has instituted much higher nutrition standards, and the USDA has revamped the nation’s school food program. Having higher standards is one thing; having students embrace healthier school food options is an entirely different thing. But the key ingredient today is the same now as it was then: student voices.
With help from culinary instructors and local chef mentors, Cooking up Change students engage in a months-long process where they create, test and revise their recipes until they’re just right. The Chicago program culminates with a citywide cook-off on Nov. 17 at the Bridgeport Art Center, where the students’ hard work will be celebrated by hundreds of guests. A panel of the city’s leading chefs and food industry experts will judge the students’ creative meals.
If you’re in Chicago, please join us on Nov. 17 to witness these talented young chefs in action and to taste their delicious meals. All proceeds from the event go toward our mission to improve student health in Chicago schools and across the country. If you are from outside of Chicago or cannot attend, you can make a donation or enter the grand raffle of a trip to California!
The flagship competition in Chicago is just the beginning of an incredible nationwide season. The winning team from Chicago will join other winning teams from across the country when they compete at the Cooking up Change national finals in Washington, D.C., next June. We’ll announce the full Cooking up Change 2016-2017 schedule soon!
We couldn’t put on such a great contest every year without the support of our generous sponsors including: Presenting sponsor, Aramark; Heroes, Aetna and Sammons Financial Group; Champion sponsors RJB Properties and School Health Corporation; Official Education Partner, Chicago Public Schools CTE Culinary Arts Program; Culinary Scholarship sponsor, Washburne Culinary Institute; National Gold level sponsor, National Food Group, Official Travel Partner, Southwest; Official Culinary Partner, James Beard Foundation and Silver level sponsor, American Federation of Teachers.