By: Melaina Lewis, Communications Specialist, Food Marketing Institute

Cooking up ChangeOver the past few years, Northgate Gonzalez Market has been committed to improving the lives of youth in Anaheim, California. In an effort to increase awareness on the benefits of healthy eating among high-school students, Northgate Gonzalez partnered with Kid Healthy to become the first organization to regionally host Cooking up Change® in Orange County.

Cooking up Change is a healthy cooking contest that provides high school students from Title I, low-income schools, the tools and training to transform their school lunch menu; develop valuable culinary arts skills, improve self-esteem, and inspires them to continue their education in culinary arts and nutrition sciences. 

The unique strength of Cooking up Change comes from its power to elevate a meal and a message created by students so that it reaches their peers locally and nationwide. Through the competition, students gain a platform to discuss the importance of raising nutritional standards with our nation’s leading policymakers, and create better tasting school food.

Here are more ways Cooking up Change is impacting the lives of youth in The Golden State and reforming school food systems:

  • Lunches from Cooking up Change have been integrated into the school food menus in public schools and are now served regularly in some districts including Orange County. 
  • Cooking up Change competition teams have created 153 student recipes and 41 after school snack recipes.
  • The Orange County teams have received several national titles and nation-wide recognition for their recipes.
  • More than 40 chefs have mentored students in Cooking up Change.
  • The program has awarded 30 scholarships to participants.
  • Raised $250,000 to support Kid Healthy, the Orange County Regional Cooking up Change contest

These examples and more can be found at   
Is your store creating programs for youth development in your neighborhood? Go to to share your story with us. The deadline to submit a nomination for the Community Outreach Awards has been extended to Thursday, October 19, 2017.