Cooking up Change

Cooking up Change is a dynamic culinary competition that challenges high school students in cities across the nation to create healthy, appealing school meals. Winning teams compete in the national finals and present their meals to Congress!

National Finals: June 6, 2016 in Washington, D.C.

As the debate over school food continues, 10 teams of student chefs from across the country went to Washington, D.C., to prove that the future of school food has arrived—and it’s both healthy and delicious.

Talented students earned their way to the Cooking up Change National Finals by winning local competitions in Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Orange County, Owensboro, Phoenix, St. Paul and Wichita. While in the nation’s capital, they engaged in a cook-off that will determine the Cooking up Change national champion. But more importantly, the students showed national leaders and decision-makers that school food can taste great, and be great for you. Learn more about each team of students chefs and our impressive panel of judges in the Contests section.

Follow the contest on Facebook and Twitter with #cookingupchange.

For media inquiries, please contact Tatum Wan via email or at (818) 590-1530
.

First Place
Orange County: Moroccan Stuffed Zucchini, Moroccan Salad, Spiced Pear Cups

Second Place
Chicago: Cajun Chicken Lettuce Wrap, Roasted Corn Relish, Deconstructed Peach and Yogurt Pizza

Third Place
Los Angeles: Chicken Quesadilla, Healthy Slaw with Cumin-Lime Crema, Pineapple Downtown


Students Changing the Future of School Food

Cooking up Change challenges high school culinary students across the country to create a healthy and delicious school lunch that meets national nutrition standards on a tight budget. Using only ingredients and equipment commonly available for school food service, students create recipes that appeal to their peers and can easily be replicated on a large scale in real school kitchens.


Elevating Student Voices

In this way, Cooking up Change is about elevating student voices in the national conversation about school food. These talented chefs show us that within the constraints schools face every day, it is possible to create healthy meals with a powerful appeal to students.

tatyanna“Lunch may seem like small topic. . . but many children across the country depend on school lunch when they are hungry and this competition has shown me why it is such an important meal served in schools.”
Tatyanna, student chef, Washington, D.C.

When so much of what we hear about school food focuses on challenges, these students remind us to focus on solutions. Through Cooking up Change, high school students are helping lead the way to a bright and healthy future for school food.


Teamwork, Leadership and Creativity

Cooking up Change demands more than culinary knowledge: It challenges students to think critically, work together as a team and develop skills that translate to success far beyond the kitchen or the classroom. Teams navigate the challenge with guidance from their culinary instructors, chef mentors and from dietitians who help them conduct nutritional analyses and adjust their recipes accordingly. While adults offer guidance, student teams develop their own recipes, drawing on their culinary arts studies, peer feedback and their own experiences.

Stay Connected!

Sign up to receive news and resources focused on wellness and healthy school environments.

Contact

Sara Porter
Vice President of External Affairs

Learn more about our Cooking up Change Chicago program.

Local Contests

At the heart of Cooking up Change is a series of culinary contests across the country, with winners from each local competition advancing to the national finals in Washington, D.C. The 2015-16 Cooking up Change season features local contests in 10 cities:

Chicago
Cajun Chicken Lettuce Wrap, Roasted Corn Relish, Deconstructed Peach and Yogurt Pizza
Read more!

Dallas
Chicken Parmesan Sandwich, Green Beans & Cherry Tomatoes and Banana Dip Bites
Read more!

Detroit
Low Country Chicken and Collards Pilau, Country Coleslaw, Peanut Butter and Nana Stacker Parfait
Read more!

Houston
Chicken Philly Sandwich with Sautéed Onion, Peppers and Cheese; Cucumber and Onion Salad, Yogurt Parfait with a Graham Cracker Crust and Pineapples
Read more!

Los Angeles
Chicken Quesadilla, Healthy Slaw with Cumin-Lime Crema, Pineapple Downtown
Read more!

Orange County
Moroccan Stuffed Zucchini, Moroccan Salad, Spiced Pear Cups
Read more!

Owensboro
Chicken Alfredo with Penne and Roasted Vegetables, Garden Salad, Mixed Fruit
Read more!

Phoenix
Taco Burritos, Sautéed Green Beans and Carrots, Peanut Butter and Banana Cup
Read more!

St. Paul
Thai Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Cucumber Salad, Crispy Pineapple Bake
Read more!

Wichita
Barbecue Chicken Pizza Quesadilla, Steamed Vegetables with Blue Cheese Dressing, Frozen Strawberry Yogurt Bananas
Read more!


Judging

cuc-tray

The national judging panel includes chefs, school food leaders, advocates, policymakers, students and many others. Judges taste and evaluate meals based on a set of criteria that is shared with the student teams at the beginning of the contest. These criteria address factors including:

Originality
Rate the originality and creativity of the school meal.

Taste
Are the items seasoned correctly? Is there a balance between the main dish and the two side dishes? Is there a variety of textures? Does it taste good? Would you order it?

Appearance
Does it look appetizing? Is there a variety of natural colors? Is the tray neatly plated?

Presentation
Did the team give an articulate, well-planned presentation?

Judges base their evaluation on taste-size samples of the meal and a presentation by student chefs. Many thanks to the judges who take on the challenge of determining a winner among the many excellent entries.


Cooking up Change National Finals 2016 Judging Panel

Sharon Adams-Taylor
Associate Executive Director, Children’s Initiatives and Program Development, American Association of School Administrators

Shelvy Y. Abrams
Vice President, American Federation of Teachers

Dr. Monique Chism
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education

Dr. William Dietz
Director of Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness, Millikin Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University

Gerry Fernandez
President and Founder, Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance

Daniel Giusti
Founder and Chef, Brigaid Read more!

Robert Jaber
Director of Food and Nutrition Services, District of Columbia Public Schools

Richard Laine
Division Director, Education Division, National Governors Association

Dr. Livia Lam
Senior Policy Advisor, Learning Policy Institute

Erin McGuire
Policy Director, National Farm to School Network

Holly McPeak
Nutrition Advisor, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Kwame Onwuachi
Chef/Owner, The Shaw Bijou, Top Chef Season 13 Read more!

Colin Pekruhn
Program Director, Grantmakers In Health

Samantha Vargas Poppe
Associate Director, Policy Analysis Center, ORAL, National Council of La Raza

Audrey Rowe
Administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Elyssa Koidin Schmier
National Budget Campaign Director, MomsRising.org

Rodney Taylor
Director, Office of Food and Nutrition Services, Fairfax County Public Schools

Stay Connected!

Sign up to receive news and resources focused on wellness and healthy school environments.

Contact

Sara Porter
Vice President of External Affairs

Learn more about our Cooking up Change Chicago program.

Speaking Up to Support Progress for Healthy School Food

judging

As policymakers debate the future of school food, the student chefs of Cooking up Change are demonstrating that school meals can be both healthy and appealing to young people. The students remind us to focus on solutions rather than the challenges of the school meal program and to not waiver in our support for high nutrition standards.

When students travel to Washington, D.C. for the Cooking up Change national finals, they also present their meals to Congress and are featured at a briefing on school food policy. Teams of students have met with Senators Richard Durbin, Debbie Stabenow and others to share their views on school food. In many cases, teams also share their meal and their message with local elected leaders; the Chicago team, for example, has met with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and presented to the Illinois State Board of Education.


In Students’ Words

shae

“I really love how all students and mentors and volunteers are trying to change the way kids eat a little at a time.”
Shae, student chef, Orange County

 

guillermo-detroit

 

“I learned that cooking healthy can be fun and inspirational.”
Guillermo, student chef, Detroit

 


By the Numbers

Since Cooking up Change launched in 2007:

  • 20 cities have hosted Cooking up Change competitions
  • 1,800+ student chefs have participated
  • 8,200,000+ student-designed meals have been served in school cafeterias across the country

Building Skills, Gaining Powerful Life Experience

presenting-judges

Cooking up Change helps students build valuable professional skills, from teamwork and problem-solving to leadership and public speaking.

It also provides a life experience that few students (or adults) experience: traveling to our nation’s capital to take part in a competition with peers from across the nation, then speaking with elected leaders about their experiences.

When students share their perspective at a briefing on Capitol Hill, in a meeting with their elected representative or with Congressional staffers who attend a post-contest reception, they develop a special and powerful understanding that their voice matters in shaping our nation’s policies.


Elevating Student Voices in the Media

During the 2015-2016 Cooking up Change season alone, people heard the students’ messages through traditional and social media more than 46.5 million times. A few highlights include:

June 7, 2016 | ABC WORLD NEWS NOW

March 8, 2016 | The Detroit News
Detroit students gear up for national cooking competition

March 3, 2016 | Twin Cities Pioneer Press
St. Paul students play top chef — for school lunches

February 17, 2016 | Chicago Tribune
Chicago Public Schools student chefs serve their award-winning lunch

June 12, 2015 | Choices Magazine
Meet the Amazing Students Cooking Up Change in School Cafeterias!

June 10, 2015 | Detroit News
Detroit student chefs advance in national competition

June 9, 2015 | Washington Times
Cooking up Change competition puts students in charge of school lunches

June 9, 2015 | POLITICO
Students Cook for Senators

Stay Connected!

Sign up to receive news and resources focused on wellness and healthy school environments.

Contact

Sara Porter
Vice President of External Affairs

Learn more about our Cooking up Change Chicago program.

National Sponsors

National School Nutrition Partner

aramark

 

Official Culinary Partner

jamesbeard

 

Official Travel Partner

southwest

 

Silver Sponsor

American Federation of Teachers

Stay Connected!

Sign up to receive news and resources focused on wellness and healthy school environments.

Contact

Sara Porter
Vice President of External Affairs

Learn more about our Cooking up Change Chicago program.

Cooking up Change National Recipes + Resources

Access winning recipes from Cooking up Change below, or go to our main Resource Center to access resources across HSC’s program and policy areas.

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Curry Chicken

Cooking up Change Chicago 2011 recipe from Clemente Community High School

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Haitian Spice Chicken

Cooking up Change National 2015 recipe from Chicago's Marshall High School

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Tenacious Turkey Chili

Cooking up Change National 2013 recipe from Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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BBQ Chicken Tacos

Cooking up Change National 2013 recipe from Memphis, Tennessee

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Spinach and Carrot Slaw

Cooking up Change National 2014 recipe from Jacksonville, Florida

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Apple Cinnamon Delight

Cooking up Change National 2015 recipe from Memphis, Tennessee

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Exotic Island Pears

Cooking up Change National 2014 recipe from Memphis, Tennessee

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Tropical C Burst

Cooking up Change National 2014 recipe from Los Angeles, California

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Yummy Lo Mein

Cooking up Change National 2015 recipe from Washington, D.C.

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Cucumber Salad

Cooking up Change National 2013 recipe from Los Angeles, California

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Catfish Tacos with Pico de Gallo

Cooking up Change National 2013 recipe from Jacksonville, Florida

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Sweet Potato Fries

Cooking up Change National 2014 recipe from Little Rock, Arkansas

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Motherland Esquite

Cooking up Change National 2015 recipe from Orange County, California

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Tutti Fruity Parfait

Cooking up Change National 2015 recipe from Detroit, Michigan

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Lonestar Chicken Chili Sub

Cooking up Change National 2014 recipe from Houston, Texas

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Super Stewed Apples

Cooking up Change National 2014 recipe from Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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Elotes Washington

Cooking up Change National 2013 recipe from Chicago, Illinois

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Chicken Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce

Cooking up Change National 2015 recipe from Jacksonville, Florida

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Peach Crunch with Vanilla Drizzle

Cooking up Change National 2015 recipe from Wichita, Kansas

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Fruit Salad

Cooking up Change National 2014 recipe from Orlando, Florida

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Miyabi Japanese Onion Soup

Cooking up Change National 2015 recipe from Orlando, Florida

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Zesta Fiesta

Cooking up Change National 2014 recipe from Orange County, California

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Poached Pears

Cooking up Change National 2013 recipe from St. Louis, Missouri

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Jalapeno Infused Peach Crumble

Cooking up Change National 2013 recipe from Denver, Colorado

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Twisted Texas Cabbage and Collard Greens

Cooking up Change National 2015 recipe from Houston, Texas

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Buffalo Mac and Cheese

Cooking up Change National 2014 recipe from Wichita, Kansas

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Hot and Sweet Slaw

Cooking up Change National 2013 recipe from Orange County, California

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