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High School Students Across the Country Create Healthy Recipes for their Peers

As the more recent conversation about the USDA’s school nutrition standards continues to evolve, it’s important to recognize that some of the greatest work being done is for students, by students. Organizations like the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project are helping students be the voice for change by bringing healthy meals to their peers.

Nationwide, students are showing their passion for healthy eating and improving meals in their schools, ultimately supporting the new USDA school nutrition guidelines. Youth leaders are becoming great success stories within their communities, and the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project is helping them to share their experience.

Listen to the stories from these three student chefs whose teams won the 2013 Cooking Up Change competition in their respective communities. Their challenge was to create healthy and tasty meals that meet nutrition standards, budget and preparation limits that schools must follow every day. As one student aptly summarized:

“I think schools can see that there is a desire among students to really eat healthy. We want to be healthy. We see that there’s a need for it. We want to feel good. And and we want to go through the school day and not only be living on sugar and carbs and having crashes during big tests. So it really impacts you on how you do as a student. Like you know you’re going to feel good because what you are putting into your body is good as well.” – Anna Simeonides, student chef contest winner.


Tavarious Cleaves (Memphis, Tennessee)
Tavarious was part of the winning student chef team from Craigmont High School in Memphis, TN. Inspired by his Grandmother, his team created a Southern-inspired lunch that included a barbeque chicken soft taco.

Jennifer Esquivel (Denver, Colorado)
Jennifer was part of the winning student chef team from Bruce Randolph School in Denver, CO. A cooking enthusiast from age 9, Jennifer helped her team create a chicken Panini wrap with a colorful coleslaw.

Anna Simeonides (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)
Anna was part of the winning student chef team from Salem/Forsyth County schools in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Anna’s mission is to make healthy food approachable for students. She and her team created a “tenacious turkey chili” and sweet potato fries.

For more information about this program, visit

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