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Student Success Story

Submitted By: Los Angeles Unified School District ROP

ROP Students Cooking up Change

Student Background

Jenifer Mendez and Kimberly K. Sanchez of Manual Arts High School in South Los Angeles, had a shared interest in culinary arts. Through their ROP class, they were given the opportunity to compete in Cooking up Change®.

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 food. The “Cooking Up Change” phenomena showcases the Rigor, Relevance, and Relationship (3R’s) critical to students 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.

Summer Harrington, a judge and consulting chef for Gourmet Foods Inc., said every dish she sampled made by the student teams was fantastic. “It’s just a beautiful thing to see them actually being that involved in their food and their ingredients and overall trying to create food that was healthier,” she said of the competition.

Outcomes

Student chefs Jenifer Mendez and Kimberly K. Sanchez of Manual Arts High School in South Los Angeles claimed the top prize by impressing the judges with their BBQ chicken pizza on pita bread drizzled with mozzarella and Parmesan, with spicy bean dip and tropical dessert. Their success marks the second consecutive year that ROP students have won this competition. The excited duo will now have their dishes served multiple times throughout the next school year to the district’s 650,000 students. They will also enter the national competition in Washington, D.C., this June. After embracing and shedding a few tears, the girls said they were excited to change people’s health and have their dish enjoyed by students. Perhaps they could even be “the new face of LAUSD,” Mendez said. “These are two little girls who are very sweet, very smart and very happy and positive; they don’t have any drama stories to tell,” said Genevieve Ramirez-Wobrock, the team’s culinary arts instructor, who is teaching them international cuisine this semester.

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