Chicago high school students studying the culinary arts will be cooking up delicious and nutritious school meals for the 10th year in a row on Thursday, as they compete for a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C.
The Cooking up Change program was launched by the Healthy Schools Campaign in Chicago in 2007. Since then, it has expanded to include 20 other cities, which host their own competitions each year. This year, students from 13 Chicago Public High Schools will compete.
At the competition, student chefs present their meals to local leaders, policymakers and the culinary community. They are challenged to create healthy, great-tasting meals that meet the real-life requirements of the school meal program. They also have to do it on a budget: The lunches have to cost about $1.
The winning meal will be served at all CPS schools next semester, and the winning team will go on an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to take part in the national competition at the U.S. Department of Education.
However, according to Sara Porter, a spokeswoman for Healthy Schools Campaign, the competition in D.C. is not the main purpose of the trip.
“We want them to be a voice in the national conversation about healthy school meals,” she said. “When they go to D.C., all of the teams will have an opportunity to share their experiences with their legislators.”
Porter said Thursday’s competition and anniversary party will be a “fun night out in the city” for those who attend. The proceeds from the ticket sales will go toward helping Healthy Schools Campaign with their mission of making public schools a healthy and safe place for students.
In addition to the competition, the event’s reception will include a DJ, gourmet food and drinks, a photo booth and a grand-prize raffle, which guests can enter for a chance to win a four-day, three-night trip to California.
The Cooking up Change event will take place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday at the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W 35th St. Event tickets are $100 and raffle tickets are an additional $50; they can be purchased at www.cookingupchange.org.
This year’s qualifying high schools are: Roberto Clemente Community Academy High School, Marie Sklodowska Curie Metropolitan High School, Chicago Vocational Career Academy High School, Paul Laurence Dunbar Career Academy High School, Benito Juarez Community Academy High School, Manley Career Academy High School, North-Grand High School, Charles Allen Prosser Career Academy High School, Ellen H Richards Career Academy High School, Theodore Roosevelt High School, Southside Occupational Academy High School, Jacqueline B Vaughn Occupational High School and George Washington High School.