SOURCE: Chartwells School Dining Services

Chartwells School Dining Services

May 24, 2012 16:45 ET

Chartwells School Dining Services Sponsors Cooking up Change Healthy Cooking Contest

Strengthens Commitment to Healthy School Food

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - May 24, 2012) - This week in our nation's capital, Chartwells School Dining Services, participated as a platinum sponsor and a judge in the annual National Cooking up Change® healthy cooking contest. Cooking up Change® is a cooking competition created by the Healthy Schools Campaign that challenges teams of high school students to create healthy, great-tasting school meals that exceed current USDA standards as well as the gold standard of the HealthierUS School Challenge, using ingredients commonly available to food service that can be easily prepared in a school kitchen.

Student chefs from Chicago, Denver, Jacksonville, Santa Ana, St. Louis, and Winston-Salem presented their healthy school lunches before a prestigious panel of judges for consideration as the best healthy school lunch in the nation. Karen Duncan, wife of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Christie Vilsack, wife of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, served as Cooking up Change® Honorary National co-chairs. Duncan also served as a judge for the contest.

The team from Valley High School, Santa Ana, CA won with their menu of lemon and spinach chicken with Tuscan bean salad and cinnamon poached pears. Winning honorable mention was the team from Chicago Public Schools (CPS) with their oven-fried chicken, "Cousins" collard greens & cabbage, and sweet potato salad. The team from Chicago Vocational Career Academy (CVCA), a CPS school managed by Chartwells Thompson Hospitality, also had the recent honor of serving this menu on Capitol Hill last week to lawmakers and staff. Last year, Chicago Public Schools made news with their unprecedented purchase of 1.2 million pounds of chicken raised without antibiotics which was served as part of school lunch menus.

The Cooking up Change contest engages students in the national dialogue about school food, policy and resources that would make it possible for all children to have access to lunches as nutritious and appealing as those created in the contest. It challenges students to create a healthy school lunch with affordable ingredients, comparable to those found in dining centers across the country.

"We are extremely proud of the students who competed in Cooking up Change and are lending their voices to the national discussion on school food," said Rochelle Davis, President and CEO of Healthy Schools Campaign. "These students are speaking up to make healthy and appealing school meals like the ones they have created the norm in our nation's schools."

The Cooking up Change student contestants found their participation to be very rewarding in these times of school lunch reform, with many of them commenting that it helped change their outlook on their own eating behavior. They were very proud that this experience influenced their families as well and made positive changes to family cooking and eating habits. Chartwells' mission is to change the way students and their families view food and Cooking up Change is an excellent example of a program that supports this initiative.

CVCA student, Diamonte B., said, "I learned teamwork. I learned to work together, work hard, stay focused." Fellow student chef Sheanice D., said, "We learned a lot during this competition -- a lot about the ingredients and where they came from." The competition gave the students aspirations for the future. "We'll keep cooking from our hearts and believing we can make it anywhere," said Sheanice.

"Cooking up Change provides a unique hands-on educational experience for students to engage their peers about eating healthy," said Margie Saidel RD, Vice President of Nutrition and Sustainability for Chartwells School Dining Services, Platinum Sponsor. "We are so proud that these amazing kids have the courage to compete and to plant the seeds of change for a healthier life for themselves as well as their peers and families."

For more information about Cooking up Change®, please visit

About Chartwells School Dining Services
Chartwells, a division of Charlotte, NC-based Compass Group, provides dining services for over 550 public school districts and private schools, comprising over 6,000 separate elementary, middle and high schools nationwide. For more information about Chartwells School Dining Services, visit

About Healthy Schools Campaign
Healthy Schools Campaign, an independent not-for-profit organization, is a leading authority on healthy school environments and a voice for people who care about our environment, our children, and education. HSC advocates for policies and practices that allow all students, teachers and staff to learn and work in a healthy school environment. For more information, please visit

About Cooking up Change®
Cooking up Change® is a healthy cooking contest for high school student chefs. With the guidance of a chef instructor and dietitians, teams are challenged to prepare a great-tasting, nutritious meal that meets the nutritional standards and cost constraints that school food service staff face every day. Cooking up Change® engages students in the national dialogue about healthy school food. For more information, please visit

Contact Information

  • Ayde Lyons
    Chartwells School Dining Services
    Phone: 914-935-5320
    Email: Email Contact