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Student Success Story

Submitted By: Los Angeles Unified School District ROP

Students Compete in National Cooking Competition

Student Background

LOS ANGELES - West Adams Preparatory High School's Culinary Students José Landaverde, Maribel Sandoval and Esther Segura head to our nation's capital to present their healthy meal creations at the Cooking up Change® national competition in Washington, D.C., to be held Monday, June 10, 2013.

"We are so fortunate to have José, Maribel and Esther represent Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)," says David Binkle, director of Food Services at LAUSD. "They demonstrated that despite limited ingredients, students could create unique menu items that not only taste good, but are good for them as well."

To compete at the national competition in Washington, D.C., the West Adams team won against other LAUSD culinary programs from Banning High School, Doyle Career and Transition Center, Francis Polytechnic High School, Marshall High School and Santee Education Complex during a District wide competition held in January. A panel of five Los Angeles-based chefs judged the dishes and ultimately crowned West Adams as the District champion.

West Adams' menu includes Tex Mex Corn Bread and Black Bean Mountain, Cucumber Salad and Warm Pear and Raisin Delight. The team followed a rigorous recipe development process with a limited list of ingredients to create dishes that are low in calories, fat, sugar and sodium. The District's Food Services dietitians carefully checked each recipe to meet nutritional requirements. As part of their prize, West Adam's menu will be served at all LAUSD schools during the 2013-2014 school year and there is a chance that it could also be served at the cafeteria of the U.S. House of Representatives if they win the national competition.

"This contest is a great way to find out what students would like to eat in our cafeterias and to ultimately involve the students in the creation of healthy meals for their peers," says Binkle. "Studies show that when young people eat nutritiously, they have better health and they also perform better in school."

The Los Angeles Cooking up Change® competition is sponsored by LAUSD's "I'M IN" campaign, an all-inclusive program designed to raise awareness about the District's healthy meals to help fight off childhood obesity, as well as to encourage student attendance and dropout prevention.

Program Description

Cooking up Change® is a national healthy cooking competition launched by Healthy Schools Campaign. It challenges teams of high school culinary students to create menu items that are not only healthy, but also meet nutrition guidelines and the budgetary constraints (about $1 per meal) that school food services programs nationwide face today. It is a program that allows students to be involved in the conversation as campuses across the country strive to serve healthy, great-tasting school food.

The "Cooking Up Change" phenomena showcases the Rigor, Relevance, and Relationship (3R's) critical to student success in the 21st Century. The competition not only allows students to apply what they learn in their school culinary programs, it gives them the chance to taste what life might be like in the restaurant or food-service industry, said David Binkle, LAUSD's director of food services.

Outcomes

Healthful cooking has now become a career passion. Esther hopes to attend Los Angeles Trade-Technical College's culinary arts program and become a chef. In June, she and two West Adams classmates - Jose Landaverde and Maribel Sandoval - competed in the national healthful cooking contest in Washington, D.C., after winning L.A. Unified's competition.

The team's winning entree, "Tex Mex Corn Bread and Black Bean Mountain," featured spiced turkey and black beans over corn bread, topped with lettuce and salsa. Esther prepared the side dish of cucumber rounds and diced tomatoes drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette. The dessert was cinnamon-spiced warm pears and raisins. Esther and her team lost the national competition to Valley High School in Santa Ana, which won its second consecutive championship with a turkey and veggie sandwich, "Pita-Packs-a-Punch." However, Esther said, she still feels like a winner: Beginning this fall, her team's dish will be served in L.A. Unified cafeterias.

teresa.watanabe@latimes.com

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