Stories / Impact

JBF Partners with Cooking up Change in the Fight for Better School Lunch

Anna Mowry

Anna Mowry

May 15, 2012


The James Beard Foundation is partnering with Cooking up Change and Healthy Schools Campaign

While the buzz surrounding the need for fresh and healthy school lunch has certainly grown louder on the food world’s radar, no one will deny that there’s still plenty to be done to improve American students’ diets. And whom better to consult than the students themselves?

That’s the strategy behind Cooking up Change, a student-chef competition whose winning recipes make their way into cafeterias around the country. Started by Healthy Schools Campaign, a Chicago-based non-profit, the contest takes place in six cities, inviting student-led teams to craft delicious school lunches within the “real-life constraints” of limited ingredient lists and tight deadlines. Finalists from each city will compete in the national competition in Washington, D.C. on May 21, and one dish from each team’s menu will be served at Longworth Cafeteria (where members of Congress and their staff frequently fuel up) and at a Congressional briefing on school food.

Since JBF is also committed to culinary education and helping children eat better, we’re proud to have joined with Cooking up Change as its official culinary partner. We’ll be on the judging panel down in the capital, and will also share the winning recipes here on our site. In the meantime, learn more about the competitors below:

Chicago (November 3)
At the first local competition for Cooking up Change, Chicago Vocational Career Academy students Diamonte B., Sheanice D., Kaliah H., Ciara L., Tytionna R., and Jerome S. impressed the judges with their oven-fried chicken, sautéed cabbage and collard greens with Cajun seasoning, and sweet potato salad. In January the meal appeared on the Chicago Public Schools menu, feeding more than 20,000 kids. The team served the meal to Mayor Rahm Emanuel at City Hall in March.

Denver (November 18)
The Denver competition’s winning dish was designed by Manual High School students Alismet A., Jessica G., Libertad M., and Sanjuana C. Their menu includes a cheesy chicken pasta baked with vegetable ragú, a spinach and carrot muffin with carrot sticks, and a fruit and yogurt parfait. Their menu was served in Denver Public Schools in January.

St. Louis (February 7)
Cooking up Change St. Louis took place at the annual Let’s Move STL: So You Got Moves Expo. The winning team from Clyde C. Miller Career Academy wowed the judges with their lemon–pepper chicken, Caesar salad, and berry parfait. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay was on hand to congratulate teammates Rose B. and Courtney W.

Santa Ana, California (March 8)
Ashley B., Alejandro H., and Ivan L. of Santa Ana Valley High School designed the winning meal of lemon and spinach chicken, Tuscan bean salad, and cinnamon-poached pears. The students appeared on a live news segment on CBS in Los Angeles on March 27. (Click here to watch the video.)

Winston-Salem, North Carolina (March 22)
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools students Brianda H., Maria Jose G., and Jarion S. took first place with their mouth-watering menu of El taco loco served with black beans and veggies, followed by a home-style apple pie tortilla for dessert.

Jacksonville, Florida (March 28)
The final qualifying competition was held in Jacksonville. The winning students (Ashley L., Hannah R., and Phillip W. of Frank H. Peterson High School) created a West African menu: chicken imoyo wrap, Jollof rice, and West African succotash.