As they lined up for lunch today, students in every CPS school were offered a special meal designed entirely by their peers.
The lunch of curry chicken, plantains, and Caribbean garden salad with pineapple-cumin dressing was the winning meal in this year's Cooking Up Change competition – a healthy cooking contest that puts student voices front and center in the national dialogue about school food. The winning chefs were from Chicago Vocational Career Academy (CVCA), which has one of the most robust Culinary Arts programs in the District.
"We are excited to see our students taking in interest in both health and nutrition, as both play a fundamental role in academic growth," said Leslie Fowler, Director of Nutrition Support Services at CPS. "Today these students are sending an important message to their peers and families around the importance of healthy eating."
In the citywide contest that was held last fall, CPS culinary students were tasked with creating a tasty and nutritious lunch that could be easily replicated in any school cafeteria. The CVCA team came out on top, using antibiotic-free Amish chicken adorned with a variety of seasonings, including curry, thyme and garlic.
According to Mallory M., a senior at CVCA, the team was confident that their classmates could handle the spice.
"Kids love spicy food," she said, "so we wanted a meal that would make them feel at home."
On the day their meal was presented to the District, family, friends and community members gathered at CVCA to honor the winning team, who will travel to Washington, D.C. in June to compete in the Cooking Up Change finals and serve portions of their winning meal to Congress.
"The students are the stars of this day," said Trevor Ferguson, Regional Vice-President at Aramark, which is the food service provider for CPS. "But it also is a day to highlight the positive impact that a healthy school lunch can bring to Chicago's students and the importance of student involvement in menu planning."