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Mon, 21 Jun 2021 14:11:52 -0500
2018-01-29 Print

Student Chefs Compete for a Spot on the School Menu at Real Food for Kids’ 6th Annual Culinary Challenge & Wellness Expo

Real Food for Kids will hold its 6th Annual Culinary Challenge & Wellness Expo on March 17. Exhibits open at 10 a.m. with the Culinary Challenge starting at 11 a.m.


Great Falls, VA -- Real Food for Kids will hold its 6th Annual Culinary Challenge & Wellness Expo on March 17. Exhibits open at 10 a.m. with the Culinary Challenge starting at 11 a.m. The event takes place at Hayfield Secondary School (7630 Telegraph Rd., Alexandria, Va. 22315) and is open to the public at $15 per person. All attendees will be able to sample items prepared by the students as well as attend the expo and panel.

The event will feature nine student teams competing to create a lunch that meets USDA guidelines for school meals and eight teams participating in a showcase of breakfast and snack dishes that could be adapted for school use. Video.

Last year’s winning entry, Chicken Shawarma, created by students at Lake Braddock Secondary School, is now on regular rotation in Fairfax County middle and high schools. The theme for this year’s competition is Viva Vegetarian, a direction encouraged by school nutrition directors who are seeking creative and appealing options for their growing number of vegetarian and vegan students.

Teams from Fairfax and Prince William counties will be participating this year, made up of middle school and high school students from culinary academy or family and consumer sciences programs. Participating schools include: Glasgow Middle School, West Potomac High School, Lanier Middle School, Sandburg Middle School, Irving Middle School, Franklin Middle School, Marshall Academy, Chantilly Academy, Lake Braddock Secondary School, Annandale High School, and Parkside Middle School.

Students’ recipes are vetted for compliance to USDA standards ahead of the competition where they are then judged on taste, presentation and potential for student appeal by a panel of judges that include school nutrition directors and students. The judging panel will be joined this year by celebrity chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery. The event features a Public Tasting allowing participants to sample each of the students’ creations.

The Culinary Challenge is paired with a Wellness Expo that will feature a variety of speakers, panelists and special guests, among them Bonnie Benwick, deputy food editor at The Washington Post, who will be joined by students for a session on How to Write a Recipe. Other panels will focus on Decoding the New Nutrition Facts Label; The Entrepreneurial Connection Between School Food and STEM Education; Plant-Based Eating; Leadership and Life Skills for the New Economy through Family and Consumer Sciences.

A Partners’ Hall of exhibitors will be available to attendees throughout the event and will include George Mason School of Food and Nutrition Studies, Johnson & Wales University, FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America), among others. Recipes, resources and food samples will be available.

The awards presentation to the top three culinary teams and announcement of winning recipe takes place at 2 p.m.

Registration for the event opens Feb. 1 at or attendees may register on-site on the day of the event although advance registration is recommended.

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Real Food for Kids is a Fairfax-based non-profit that has emerged as a trusted partner with school systems in elevating the quality and character of school food. For more information about our mission and programs, visit

Contact Info
Vicki Bendure
Great Falls, VA

Phone: 540-687-3360