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Cooking up Change®-Greater Orange County

Since 2012, Orange County students are taking a vested interest in making school lunch better……We Should Listen!

Cooking up Change® is a program that challenges high school students to create healthy, great tasting meals that meet the real life requirements of the national school meal program.  It serves up life changing opportunities for students to transform the school lunch menu, engage in culinary, nutrition, and food science career pathways.

In collaboration with culinary instructors, chef mentors and the greater community students gain knowledge in careers as a chef or in the field of nutrition sciences. Each student team is challenged to create a new lunch menu following the high standards school food service professionals face everyday, including: utilizing only ingredients commonly found in a school cafeteria, a budget of $1.50 per serving, all while making it creative, great tasting and nutritious.

Each team presents their meal to an esteemed panel of judges and are rated on originality, taste, appearance and presentation, The winning teams receive prizes, scholarships and are given the opportunity to speak one on one with their Congressional and Senate Representatives, regional and state advocacy groups to share their views & advocate for healthier, tastier school lunches.

This event is part of Healthy Schools Campaign’s National Cooking up Change® Series.

  • Education in nutrition, meal-planning, meal budgeting, food resourcing, USDA dietary guidelines, and public speaking
  • Hands on training with a professional chef mentor
  • Participation in a regional and national cooking contest
  • Opportunity to receive scholarships for higher education
  • Opportunity to gain internships with local restaurant and food service professionals

Since COVID-19 caused school closures, Kid Healthy has been providing virtual learning opportunities through our “Meet the Chef” series.  For more information contact us at info@mykidhealthy.org.  We look forward to resuming the Cooking up Change competition in the 2021-22 school year.

View the video highlights from the 2019 event found here:

Kid Healthy’s programs intentionally reach youth in low-income communities of Orange County and in schools with a disproportionately high percentage of students eligible for the federal free and reduced meal program, a reliable indicator of poverty. For more information, please contact as at: 949.874.7701 or info@mykidhealthy.org

Programming is provided by the generosity of our community of funders and individual donations.

Click the “Donate” button below to make a general donation:




Become a Sponsor

To sponsor Kid Healthy & the Cooking up Change® program,

please contact Linda Franks at linda@mykidhealthy.org or 949.874.7701.