Cooking up Change National Finals 2018

June 11–12, 2018

Students are rewriting the recipe for school food.

Student chefs from cities across the country will travel to Washington, D.C., to show off their culinary skills and bring their voices front and center in the national debate about school food.

These students are proving it’s possible to create delicious schools meals that meet high standards. In fact, it’s exactly what we ask of them in our annual Cooking up Change competition. Cooking up Change challenges high school culinary students to create healthy, great-tasting meals that meet the real-life requirements of the national school meal program and that fellow students will enjoy.

Talented students have earned their way to the Cooking up Change National Finals by winning local competitions in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Orange County and Troy, Alabama. While in the nation’s capital, they will engage in a cook-off that will determine the Cooking up Change national champion. But more importantly, the students will show national leaders and decision-makers that school food can taste great, and be great for you.


We will be livestreaming the winning announcement at 5 p.m. Eastern time.

Meet the Finalists

Autasia, La Ryan and Taya
Chicken Quesadilla, Pico de Gallo, Apple DeLites

Itzel, Jasalyn, Jerimah, Jose, Naomi and Yesenia
Arroz con Pollo Tazon, Zanahorias Rostizadas Relish and Pear Crisp

Alexia, Ana and Sydney
Tejano Fiesta Bowl, Roasted Broccoli and Slice of Spice

Esteven, Jordyn and Roberto
Zucchini Pasta with Cajun Chicken, Pinto Bean & Tomato Soup and Bananas & Yogurt

Orange County
Fernanda, Miguel and Wendy
Chinese Orange Chicken, Spicy Thai Slaw, Momo Otsu Mugi

Troy, Alabama
Jaleigh and Rayvion
Tuscan Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese Mashed Potatoes, and Apple Crisp

Panel of Judges

Dr. Emily Atwood
Pediatric Resident, Children’s National Medical Center

Megan Blanco
Senior Policy Associate, National Association of State Boards of Education

Swata Gandhi
Board Chair, Higher Achievement

Patty Greene
Manager, Community Affairs & Grassroots, Southwest

Angela Kline
Director, Program Policy Development Division, Child Nutrition Programs at Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Ris Lacoste
Executive Chef/Owner, Ris

Brandon Lewis
Manager, Education and Health Policy, National Urban League

Jeff Phillips
Major General, U.S. Army (Ret.), Mission: Readiness

Rosalyn Rice-Harris
Program Director, School Improvement, Council of Chief State School Officers

Ron Rubba
Executive Chef, Hazel

Colin Schwartz
Deputy Director, Legislative Affairs, Center for Science in the Public Interest

Rebecca Shaw
Project Coordinator, Children’s Programs Department, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

Vikram Sunderam
Executive Chef, Rasika

Tanya Tucker
Chief, Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships, America’s Promise

Rob Weil
Director of Field Programs, Educational Issues, American Federation of Teachers

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