Approximately 20,000 Chicago Public High School students enjoyed a nutritious lunch this past Thursday, Jan. 19, thanks to the efforts of a team of culinary students from Chicago Vocational Career Academy (CVCA) who won the Healthy Schools Campaign’s Cooking up Change contest held last November.
Twelve teams competed in the Cooking up Change contest last fall. Held at the Bridgeport Art Center, the contest challenged culinary students in Chicago Public Schools’ Department of College and Career Preparation to create healthful and delicious meals within a budget. The meals had to meet the gold standard of the Healthier US School Challenge, a fundamental component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative.
The winning team of student chefs from CVCA— Diamonte B, Sheanice D, Kaliah H, Ciara L, Tatiana R, and Jerome S—created a meal of oven-fried chicken, leafy greens and cabbage. The chefs used unprocessed chicken raised without antibiotics on Amish farms in Indiana, a new offering in CPS cafeterias this year, to create their dish. All competing teams used frozen local produce from one of the nation’s largest farm-to-school programs.
In addition to having their meal served in high schools throughout the district, the CVCA chefs will travel to Washington D.C., in May to compete in national Cooking up Change finals against six other teams and the chance to win scholarships to the Washburne Culinary Institute.
Chefs David Fuller and Lorraine Harris lead the culinary program at CVCA. Said Chef Fuller, “The contest has motivated the students to buy into what we’ve been teaching in the classroom. Winning is infectious; for a lot of our students it has been the first time they’ve been recognized amongst their peers, been given an opportunity to represent their school, the program, and their city in Washington D.C. I’ve seen a great change in them since winning the contest.”
Students from Clemente Community Academy came in second place in the contest, and the team from Richard Career Academy finished third.
“Cooking up Change provides talented culinary students with an opportunity to transform how their peers, community and families think about school food,” said Rochelle Davis, president and CEO of Healthy Schools Campaign , a local not-for-profit organization which advocates for policies and practices that create healthier school environments.
Congratulations to all the CPS students who took part in the competition.