Arts & Humanities Society & Culture

UGA and community partners host school lunch cooking competition

Food power and politics milk-h
Georgia children drink milk as part of the National School Lunch Program circa 1947-1955. The exhibit "Food

Athens, Ga. – Local chefs will take on the School Lunch Challenge creating tasty dishes that meet USDA requirements for the National School Lunch Program, and locals will have a chance to sample the creations at the cooking competition March 28 from 2-4 p.m. in the cafeteria of Barrow Elementary School.

Building on the increased public interest in school lunches, and inspired by the ongoing exhibition, “Food, Power, Politics: The Story of School Lunch” currently on display at the University of Georgia Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries, the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, the Clarke County School District, the Athens Land Trust, Athens Farm to School and UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences have partnered to plan an educational event to engage the Athens community with the past, present, and future of the National School Lunch Program.

The event will center on a cooking competition, which invites participating teams, drawn from local restaurants and non-profit organizations, and advised by members of the Clarke County School District nutrition staff, to create dishes in accordance with USDA guidelines for the National School Lunch Program. Each team will create plates including meat/meat alternative, grain and vegetable components that can appeal to a K-12 audience. Event attendees will be invited to a sample-size serving of each plate created, and will vote for a crowd favorite in each category. A panel of student judges drawn from Clarke County schools will vote to determine an overall winner. The winning team’s plate will be incorporated into the CCSD school lunch menu during the 2015-2016 school year.

Competing teams will include The National, Heirloom Café, newly opened Goodie Two Shoes, and the non-profit Athens Land Trust. Each team has been paired with one of the four local middle schools, and encouraged to incorporate that school’s colors, mascot or other identifying features into their dish or plate presentation.

The event will be free to the public but attendance will be capped at 150 people. Tickets are available through the Eventbrite website.

Attendees can also pick up information and talk to local representatives about sustainable agriculture, community gardens, and farm to school programs in the Athens community. There will be a display of materials related to the history of the National School Lunch Program.

“We hope to engage the Athens community with the topic of school lunch, providing some information about the history of the program, and helping to connect that history to the ongoing changes to the program through recent legislation on the federal level,” said organizer Jan Hebbard, outreach archivist at the Russell Library. “Hopefully this is a chance for community members to have some fun and also get a better understanding of school lunch locally, especially ongoing efforts to incorporate community gardens and local produce into cafeterias in CCSD.”

For more information, contact Hebbard at or 706-542-5788. Tickets are available at


Note to editors: An image from the exhibition, “Food, Power, Politics: The Story of School Lunch” is available at