High school cooking competitions can be hugely effective in generating excitement around school food, especially during Farm to School season, when students can work with locally grown ingredients. In rural Vernon County, Wisconsin, there are just six high schools, each with an enrollment of less than 400. But their small size doesn’t undermine the excitement as teams and their chef-mentors spend a month preparing to capture top honors in a delicious face-off. The challenge: create a winning, workable school lunch menu, completely in line USDA nutrition regulations and with no more to spend than most public schools have—about $1 per plate.

Additional Resources:

Related Inside School Food episode: “Lunch lessons from teenage chefs” (Cooking Up Change competition profile, September 22, 2014)

“Good Food and Teamwork,” Wisconsin School News profile of the Harvest Challenge (August 2015)

Viroqua Area Schools food service page (look for Farm to School links on the lower right)

Driftless Cafe website

“Mysteries of the Driftless,” Emmy-Award winning documentary about the natural history of the Driftless Area