Hold monthly recipe contests for new breakfast or lunch items and build students’ interest in making healthy eating choices. Have everyone taste test the entries and ask the school nutrition professionals to put the winners on the menu for a week or longer.
How Does It Work?
This is a strategy to get students interested in their daily nutrition. You can hold the contests monthly, quarterly, or even weekly if there is enough interest and support.
The following steps are suggestions for how to complete the Play — but they can be done in any order or combination and can be altered to fit your needs. If you find ways to adapt this Play to fit your school, share it with us through the Tips section!
Huddle up with your school nutrition professionals to help come up with a plan for the contests. Get your principal to give your plans a thumbs up, and get members of the school staff and community to volunteer as judges.
Get information out to families and the community about what you are planning. See if local businesses and restaurants will get involved. Invite a local chef to come talk about how new recipes are created or even give a cooking demonstration.
Consider having themed contests, such as dairy foods, fruit recipes, breakfast foods or lunch side dishes.
Visit the online Fuel Up to Play 60 Beyond PB&J: Cooking with Kids cookbook for ideas and ingredient suggestions.
Decide on rules for the contest, such focusing the recipes on nutrient-rich foods students need to consume more of, including low-fat or fat-free dairy foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. School nutrition professionals can provide additional guidelines to keep recipes nutritious and set pricing guidelines.
Provide information about the contest and background nutritional information on the various nutrients provided by foods in the five food groups.
After students submit recipes, work with your school nutrition manager to prepare the recipes and have students taste test them.
After taste testing, have students use a ballot to vote for their favorite recipes. Then tally the results and request that the winning entries be offered in the cafeteria breakfast and/or lunch lines.
Advertise the winners by placing posters in the cafeteria with the winners’ names and winning recipe!
Keep It Going
Work with school nutrition professionals to include and promote winning foods as part of the regular cafeteria service.
Spread the Word
Advertise the contests by making morning announcements, passing out flyers, placing signs around the school and using the school newspaper, website and TV channel (if available).
Get Others Involved
Everyone can help:
- Organize the contest and decide on rules
- Provide nutritional information to students
- Advertise the contest and results
- Vote for favorite recipes after taste testing them