U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to Highlight Students Cooking Up Change

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As some members of Congress try to keep healthier food out of America's school cafeterias, teams of student cooks from around the country will be in the U.S. Department of Education's kitchen on Monday, June 9, to show that nothing should stop schools from providing meals that are healthy, delicious and affordable. With limited ingredients, tight deadlines and real-life constraints, teams of high school culinary students take on the challenge of creating tasty and nutritious school lunches for about $1 per meal.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will visit the 10 national final teams at 12:10 p.m. as they begin to prepare their winning lunches in the Department's cafeteria.

The 10 student teams, which became finalists by winning local qualifying contests, are from Chicago; Houston; Jacksonville, Florida; Little Rock, Arkansas; Los Angeles; Memphis, Tennessee; Orange County, California; Orlando, Florida; Wichita, Kansas; and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Called Cooking Up Change, the competition is sponsored by the Healthy Schools Campaign, a non-profit organization based in Chicago. The contest aims to empower students in the national dialogue about school food.

Duncan will be available to talk to reporters about the importance of supporting current school lunch requirements that ensure children don't get more than the recommended amounts of salt, sugar and fat in their meals. He will be joined by Sam Kass, executive director of the First Lady's Let's Move! campaign and White House senior policy advisor for nutrition policy. The federal government spends more than $10 billion annually to provide school lunches, and before these new modern nutrition requirements championed by First Lady Michelle Obama, a lot of that money was spent on meals that weren't meeting basic nutrition guidelines. Despite this success, some members of Congress want to roll back these new standards and undo the hard work done on behalf of our kids.

Jonathan Brice, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, will serve as a judge on the panel, along with several others from the culinary world and the fields of nutrition, education, and government (see complete list of judges here).