The Making Healthy School Meals Easy Challenge

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) and the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) have partnered to host a new competition that challenges teams to convert four recipes from the 2011 USDA Recipes for Healthy Kids competition into a manufactured product that maintains the original nutrition content, flavor and appearance.  This unique competition is ideal for strengthening the resources available through Chefs Move to Schools and the alliance between food technologists, manufacturers, chefs and school foodservice workers. 

Competition Overview:
Four teams will compete to successfully recreate one of the 2011 USDA Recipes for Healthy Kids Competition recipes in a manufacturing environment without altering the nutritional value or flavor. 

Team Composition:
Each team will consist of 4 team members including a Chef, Food Technologist, Manufacturer and school foodservice worker (FSW).  Each team will identify one team captain who will serve as the main point of contact for the organizers.

  • Team registration date begins March 1, 2012
  • Team Product Development Begins: March 1, 2012, or by date of confirmed recipe selection
  • Team Nutritional Analysis Due: May 1, 2012
  • Dietitian’s response due:  May 15, 2012
  • Team’s final attempt due: June 1, 2012
  • Challenge Judging: Tuesday, June 26, 2012
  • Pavilion Presentation: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 10:30 – 11:30AM

Competition Format Overview
Teams will work to manufacture one recipe as a manufacturer ready product that meets school budgetary guidelines, matches original nutritional content and retains original flavor and taste.  Teams will produce 1 of the 4 identified recipes, which will be assigned on first come first serve basis based upon the time the team is approved. Nutritional content must be verified in writing by a pre-qualified school nutrition specialist and sent to competition organizers by May 1, 2012. 

Teams will ship products to the Las Vegas Convention Center from the manufacturing facility to arrive at IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo on Friday, June 22, 2012 for reheating and judging on Tuesday, June 26th.  Teams will ship product with all necessary re-heating and plating instructions for 10 portions of the modified recipe for judging on Tuesday, June 26th.  Judging will be conducted on 1 hero plate (for presentation) and properly re-heated, cafeteria display product. Specific criteria must be adhered to, such as HACCP Plan requirements, nutritional criteria, and cost parameters.

All entrants will receive a Competition Medal from the American Culinary Federation (ACF) and IFT (Foodservice Division). The Grand Prize (GP) = Bragging Rights. Every effort will be made to take full advantage of resources available from the Marketing Department of the IFT. This can include press releases about announcement, conclusion, and winners; write ups in media for ACF, RCA, IFT as well as local media.

The organizers will accept full teams or individual requests to be assigned to a team. To register, visit Each team must submit a team name, identify a team captain and remaining three team members and rank the recipes. Individuals must submit their name and rank the recipes. The organizers will attempt to assign all interested individuals to a team based upon geographic location and recipe preference.

Organizers will send the team captain, or individuals paired together, a confirmation email that lists the identified recipe. Team confirmation will occur on a first come, first serve basis. Work can begin once the team receives the confirmation.

Registration will close once all four teams have been assigned.

2011 Recipes for Healthy Kids Competition
The Recipes for Healthy Kids Competition is an initiative of Let’s Move! with the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Challenge will bring together food service staff, chefs, students, and community members to develop creative, nutritious, tasty and kid-approved recipes that schools can easily incorporate into National School Lunch menus. Ultimately, this will help to increase the student’s intake of: 1) whole grains; 2) dark green and orange vegetables; and 3) dry beans and peas.

National Competition Guidelines

  • Each team will choose one of four recipes, as listed below, to manufacture and submit
    - Smokin’ Powerhouse Chili – Junior High school students
    - Roasted Fish Crispy Slaw Wrap – Middle school students
    - Central Valley Harvest Bake – Elementary school students
    - Porcupine Sliders – High School students
  • Each team will be given $300.00 to be used at their discretion for essentials, such as shipping, and other miscellaneous expenses. The team captain will receive a check for the discretionary funds once the team is confirmed. 
  • The event judging and presentation will occur at the 2012 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. 
  • Teams to provide to organizers name and contact information for a team member to act as their point of contact. This person will be the only contact used between organizer and the team.
  • Tracking numbers for ALL shipments into Las Vegas must be provided to organizers
  • Recipe to be used will be chosen on a first come, first serve basis based on time when the challenge team is approved.
  • For re-therm purposes, use of deep fat fryer is not permitted.
  • Teams will be judged on whether their submission reflects the actual intent and appearance of the original recipe, in addition to other criteria as listed below.
  • Teams will provide documentation (formula and appropriate nutritional panel) to a pre-qualified school nutrition specialist to verify the new product’s nutritional content still meets the minimum school nutrition criteria. The documentation will be submitted to event organizers who will provide the information to the competition dietitian.
    - Must be received by dietitian by May 1, 2012
  • Teams will provide per plate delivered price; judges will determine if price is appropriate for school system at  respective age group.
    o Organizers will provide information or link for teams to understand pricing requirements, limits, etc
  • Teams will provide documentation of a HACCP plan to the IFT Foodservice Division liaison (Dr. Pete Snyder) for confirmation and review.
    - Organizers will provide a template to each team by March 30, 2012
  • All teams must send hard copies of recipe, formula, HACCP Plan, Nutritional documents, pricing, photos, and re-heating and presentation instructions to IFT Annual Meeting and Expo to arrive no later than Monday, June 25th. Failure to adhere to this timeline will result in reduction of points. The IFT staff contact, Katie Paffhouse, will verify receipt of the shipments and notify event coordinators of receipt of shipments. 
  • Teams must provide photos and instructions for plating/displaying of finished product. 
  • All re-heating and display/presentation for final judging will be done by Aramark staff at convention center only
  • Teams are encouraged to display their dishes for judging in a format familiar to a school cafeteria.
  • Boxes of finished goods must be received by convention center site at the same storage temperature required for product. For example, an item that is to be stored frozen, must be received frozen.
  • Products must have all instructions related to reheating and preparing for Expo personnel on the inside of the boxes, in addition to an electronic copy sent to facilitators no later than Monday, June 25, 2012.
  •  With regards to the formula and processing condition, respective manufacturer will retain all rights

Submission timeline and requirements

  • May 1, 2012 – formula and nutritional data to dietitian
  • June 1, 2012 – re-submit to dietitian if original submission was rejected
  • June 18, 2012 – submit electronically to Aramark via organizers: product name, team member contact, storage requirements, special handling/thawing requirements, reheating info
  • June 22, 2012 – final samples for judging to Aramark
    - Inside box must be: re-heating instructions, plating instructions, plating pictures, team contact information
    - Tracking information must be provided to organizers for all pieces being received by convention center staff
  • June 25, 2012 – Hard copies of ALL documents, instruction, pictures, etc to be used by judging team to organizers
    - Tracking information must be provided to organizers for all pieces being received by convention center staff

Judging Criteria
The competition entries will be judged by an expert judging panel determined by the organizers that may include Celebrity Chef, volunteer professional chefs, food technologists and food service workers. These judges will be chosen from membership of RCA & IFT, in addition to the SNA.  The organizers reserve the right to make substitutions to or to modify the judging panel at any time for any reason.

Judges will serve as volunteers and will not be compensated for their voluntary service. Judges will be fair and impartial. A judge may elect to recuse him or herself from judging an entry, if in the judge’s sole discretion it is not appropriate for him or her to judge that particular team because of a past or current relationship with that particular School or an individual on the team.

The judging panel will judge the entries on the following criteria at the National Competition:


Manufacturing Involvement (15%)
Development of the product in a manufacturing environment and evaluation of the product as evidenced by taste testing.

Nutrition and Flavor (30%)
Does plated product reflect the nutritional content outlined in original recipe and contain full flavor? Does it maintain original intent and appearance of original recipe?

Product Cost (5%)
Final product falls within the standard reimbursable meal costs.

HACCP Plan (15%)
Submission of a detailed HACCP plan

Creativity & Originality (10%)
Innovative use of ingredients and school-style presentation to re-create the recipe

Ease of Use in Schools (15%)
Manufacturing modifications provide an easy to use product for schools to incorporate into menus as relates to cost, meal pattern, and ease of preparation.

Entry Presentation (10%)
Presentation of product during National Cook-off

Presentation of final challenge items from teams must be accomplished by Convention Center staff. All four products will be brought out at the same time, placed on four different tables, and the judges will start at different tables and move around. Presentation must include a hero plate for each entry, in addition to the display as for a cafeteria setting. Event organizers will have available for the judges: bottled water, unsalted crackers, disposable forks and plates, and proper judging forms.
A judging panel at the National competition will judge each team’s entry and will select one as the Grand Prize winner. The judges will score each of the teams on the criteria outlined above according to the outlined point values. In the event of a tie for the Grand Prize spot, the tie will be broken based on a vote by the event organizers.

The competition winners will be announced on the Expo Floor during a special award ceremony on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 from 10:30am – 11:30am on the Special Event Pavilion stage.

Rights to Recipe
By participating in the competition, you agree that the Manufacturing Company representative will have a right of first right of refusal with respect to the use of the recipe. You agree not to use, reproduce, or disclose the recipe unless and until you are given notice that you may do so.
Additional Terms

By participating in the competition, participants fully and unconditionally agree to and accept these rules and the decisions of IFT and American Culinary Federation (ACF), which are final and binding in all matters related to the competition. Whether or not you receive a prize is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth in these rules. The competition is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and is void where prohibited by law.

IFT and ACF shall not be liable to a winner or any other person for failure to supply a prize by reason of the prize becoming unavailable or impracticable to award for reasons beyond the reasonable control of IFT and ACF, including any force majeure event, technical or equipment failure, terrorist acts, labor dispute, or act/omission of any kind (whether legal or illegal), transportation interruption, civil disturbance, or any other cause similar or dissimilar beyond the IFT’s control which impacts or invalidates the competition.
Except where prohibited, all issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these rules, or the rights and obligations of the participant and IFT and ACF in connection with the competition, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of Illinois, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules (whether of the State of Illinois, or any other jurisdiction), which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the State of Illinois.  The venue for any dispute arising under these Rules shall be the state or federal courts located in Chicago, Illinois.