When we announced Richards High School as the winner of the 10th annual Cooking up Change competition last month, the award recognized the team’s tremendous achievement in creating a great school meal. But that was truly just the beginning.
This flagship Chicago competition kicks off the national season, where students from cities across the country develop incredible recipes for a national stage. Student chefs in Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Oakland and Orange County are getting ready to develop recipes for competition, and the winning team from Chicago is hard at working perfecting their presentation.
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. 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 Chicago, and more than 1,800 students from 20 cities have participated in local contests since the program started in 2007.
This year, we’ve also had two tremendous individuals sign on to be Honorary Chairs of the program: U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and chef Daniel Giusti. “Cooking up Change is more than a culinary competition—it’s a chance to elevate young voices in the conversation about healthy school food,” says Sen. Durbin. “The fact that students are making these high-quality meals under real-life constraints is a testament to the students’ creativity and skill.”
Chef Giusti got first-hand experience with Cooking up Change last year as he served as a judge for the national finals. “I am very excited to be a part of this competition which is sure to produce many ideas to help continue the innovation of healthy school meals,” says Giusti.
We are also excited that some great national partners have signed on. We’re excited to welcome National Food Group as a new Gold level sponsor and Newman’s Own Foundation as a National Gold Supporter. We’re also glad to have sponsors return for another year. We couldn’t put on this amazing program without our National School Nutrition Partner, Aramark; Official Travel Partner, Southwest; Official Culinary Partner, James Beard Foundation; and National Silver level sponsor, American Federation of Teachers.