For Immediate Release
May 16, 2013

Students prepare their award-winning school lunch for the State Board of Education

State Board Spotlight shines on George Washington High School after team wins Healthy Schools Campaign challenge

SPRINGFIELD —Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) members received a special treat today (Thursday, May 16) as students from George Washington High School in Chicago served their award-winning school lunch during the Board’s monthly meeting. The high school students recently won a Healthy Schools Campaign competition to create a great-tasting lunch that meets nutrition standards on a tight budget, using only ingredients commonly available to school food service.

“Math, language arts and science may get the attention in our schools, but our students need a wide range of experiences and learning to maximize their career options,” said State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “We are proud of these culinary students for their achievement and honored to try their winning school lunch.”

Culinary students Vanessa Arnold, Leonard Gutierrez, Marina Nava, Karen Rivera and Leon Sanchez have been invited to the national Cooking up Change® finals in Washington, D.C., next month to compete against seven other cities from across the U.S. Their award-winning lunch is Chicken Rancheros, Elotes Washington and Fruta del Trópico.

For their efforts, ISBE recognized George Washington High School, a Chicago Public Schools District 299 school on the city’s southeast side, the students and their culinary instructors, Laniecia Anderson, Olanike Braimoh and Tai Sellers, through the State Board’s Spotlight, a program designed to recognize great achievements and educational practices across the state. The students credited their culinary mentors, Shantaya Foster and Terri Lamont, of the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Healthy Schools Campaign launched Cooking up Change in Chicago in 2007. Student-designed meals from the contest have been served in schools across the country — including the districts where they were created — as well as at Congressional briefings and in the Longworth cafeteria, which serves Congressional leaders and their staff.

“One of the most exciting elements of Cooking up Change is the emotional investment from the students in this important issue,” said Rochelle Davis, president and chief executive officer of Healthy Schools Campaign. “We want to give them the opportunity to have their voices heard and show us their vision for the healthy menu that they and their peers would like to see.”

To read more about Healthy Schools Campaign, a not-for-profit organization that advocates for children to have fresh air, healthy food and physical activity to shape their lifelong learning and health, visit More information about the organization’s Cooking up Change program is available at

Additional schools, districts, educators and students will be honored with the State Board Spotlight at future board meetings. In February, Urbana School District 116 was honored for 21st Century Community Learning Center grant achievements, including a reduction in the achievement gap. See video and photographs at ISBE’s State Board Spotlight page at



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