Student chefs Lashonda Livingston, Aljibri Reed, Henry Walton, Cari Smith and Jakaia Franklin prepare to present the healthy school lunch they designed at a briefing on Capitol Hill. March 2, 2010. Photos by Stacey Vaeth.
"I learned that change really can happen if we all help it along," said Cari Smith, a junior at Chicago's Tilden Career Community High School who traveled to Washington, DC this week to bring a healthy, great-tasting school lunch she and her team mates designed to Congress.
The students won first place in HSC's Cooking up Change healthy cooking
contest with their meal of chicken-vegetable jambalaya, jalapeno
cornbread and cucumber salad, a lunch that not only exceeds standards
for nutrition but also impressed judges with its great taste, visual
presentation and appeal to students.
On March 2, Cari and her classmate Aljibri Reed spoke at a Capitol Hill briefing on the future of school food alongside HSC founding executive director Rochelle Davis, Cooking up Change National Honorary Co-Chairs Karen Duncan (wife of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan) and Christie Vilsack (wife of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack), and Louise Esaian, logistics officer and head of school nutrition programs for Chicago Public Schools.
Students chefs Jakaia Franklin, Lashonda Livingston and Henry
Walton also fielded questions. The whole team presented the meal
at the briefing, which was organized by Healthy Schools Campaign and
sponsored by the offices of Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Jan Schakowsky. The briefing and the award-winning lunch were the focus of a day of action urging Congress to authorize increased funding for better school food.
Nearly a hundred people crowded into the briefing room to get a taste of the students' tasty lunch and hear about the national movement for school food reform.
The award-winning lunch was served the same day in the House of Representatives Longworth cafeteria, where it was a huge hit: the cafeteria sold out of jambalaya, cornbread and cucumber salad. (When the lunch was served in Chicago public high schools on Jan. 29, it was so popular that the Tilden school cafeteria also ran out!)
"I learned that I can help change what we eat in schools -- at my school and across the country," Cari told advocates, members of Congress, staffers and media at the briefing.
This message is especially important as Congress begins the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, the legislation that provides funding and sets standards for school food. The House of Representatives held its first hearing on reauthorization later in the day after the briefing. (And, we hope, after representatives enjoyed some healthy jambalaya in their cafeteria!)
The outcome of this reauthorization is vitally
important to the millions of children who struggle with obesity, the
teachers who know well-nourished children are better learners and the
growing number of families who rely on the National School Lunch
Program to provide nutritious meals to children.
Please join HSC and the student chefs of Tilden high school in speaking up for a robust and adequately funded Child Nutrition Act. Click here to take action.
And stay posted for more photos and video of the student chefs in DC!