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On May 23, students from Denver’s Martin Luther King Jr. Early College will take part in the ultimate food fight with teams of aspiring chefs from high schools in Chicago, Jacksonville, Fla., St. Louis, Washington, D.C. and Winston-Salem, N.C.

The six student teams will head to Washington D.C. to compete in the national finals of the Cooking Up Change National Healthy Cooking Contest, sponsored by the Healthy Schools Campaign and the United States Department of Agriculture.

Each student team is the winner of a regional competition that challenged them to design a healthy, great tasting school meal that meets the nutrition standards and many of the constraints faced in school food service.

Denver’s team qualified for the competition by winning LiveWell Colorado’s 2010 EatWell@School competition. In this nine-week healthy cooking competition, Denver Public Schools high school students learned how to prepare healthy and delicious school meals. Led by Johnson & Wales University volunteer chef mentors, students from Manual High School, Bruce Randolph High School and Martin Luther King Jr. Early College prepared school lunch menus that aligned with the standards for public school lunches, including meeting or exceeding USDA nutrition guidelines and staying within similar budgets. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College’s winning menu was served at LiveWell Colorado’s inaugural fundraising luncheon on December 8, 2010.

In Washington D.C., team members Brenda Alcocer, Azucena Hernandez and Edna Mendez Rodriguez, will present their winning meal of parmesan herb crusted chicken with creamy pesto spaghetti and a green apple stuffed tomato. 

We wish the student chefs of Martin Luther King Jr. Early College the best of luck as they face a panel of celebrity judges, which includes Karen Duncan, wife of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Christie Vilsack, wife of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

For more information about the 2011 Cooking Up Change National Healthy Cooking Contest, click here.

School lunch never tasted so good!