HISD Competes in Great American School Lunch Challenge

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What happens when you team the HISD Food Services Department with Food Network Star Anne Burrell to create a healthy school lunch in front of a live audience? You get the first ever Great American School Lunch Challenge.

Food Services Manager Brian Giles, along with Operations Manager Pam Guillory, joined Burrell on March 7 to compete against James Beard Award-Winning Chef Jose Garces and representatives from the Colonial School District located outside Wilmington, Delaware. The two teams were challenged to whip up a creative, appetizing and visually appealing school lunch that met nutritional guidelines on a stage in front of a live audience attending the 2013 Building a Healthier Future Summit in Washington, D.C. Hosting the challenge was White House Assistant Chef and Let’s Move! Senior Advisor Sam Kass.

“It’s an honor to be selected for this challenge and to join forces with Chef Burrell,” said Giles.  “HISD has made significant improvements to what we offer kids on a daily basis, with reduced salt, sugar, and fat, and a lot more fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and whole foods.”

Several weeks ago, Giles and his staff took Chef Burrell to visit the Culinary Arts Program at Gregory Lincoln. While there, Burrell asked for input from students on what they would like to see on the school lunch menu. Using ideas from that visit, Burrell and Team HISD decided to create a healthy roasted chicken and vegetable burrito with a side of peach cornbread topped with whipped vanilla yogurt.

All members of the summit audience had the opportunity to enjoy HISD’s creation, as well as the lunch prepared by Chef Garces and the Colonial School District.  A panel of judges cast their votes to select the winning team, and although it was a close race, HISD and Burrell took home second place honors.

“We still feel like we won,” said Guillory. “Having the national spotlight on HISD and our efforts to provide kids with healthy and nutritious meals means more than taking home the title. Who knows, you might see our creation in an HISD cafeteria soon!”