Cooking Light Presents the Great American School Lunch Challenge

Food Network Star Anne Burrell and James Beard Award Winning Chef Jose Garces Join School Nutrition Professionals from Houston and Delaware for the Great American School Lunch Challenge

Event presented by Cooking Light during PHA’s Building A Healthier Future Summit in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. (February 6, 2013)—The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), which works with honorary chair First Lady Michelle Obama and the private sector to end the childhood obesity crisis, today announced the return of its annual cook-off at the Building a Healthier Future Summit, held March 6 to 8, 2013, in Washington, D.C. This year, the Great American School Lunch Challenge, presented by Cooking Light, will task two teams, made up of award-winning chefs and school nutrition professionals, with creating the most delicious school lunch, while adhering to a strict budget and nutritional guidelines.

“Last year’s Great American Family Dinner Challenge was one of the highlights of the Building a Healthier Future Summit. This year’s Great American School LunchChallenge, presented by Cooking Light, will be just as exciting for attendees, who can watch, taste and compare the food they are eating with what was on their tray in their school days,” says PHA President and CEO Lawrence A. Soler. “It’s also a great opportunity to raise awareness for the higher nutrition standards that school cafeterias nationwide have adopted to encourage healthier habits among K-12 students.”

Every day, more than 31 million children participate in the National School Lunch Program, and for many, the choices they’re offered in the cafeteria line are a substantial part of their daily calories. For other students, what’s served at school may be the only food they can depend on. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture successfully revised the school meal standards for the first time in 15 years with the passage of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. The competitors participating in the Great American School Lunch challenge will adhere to these updated guidelines and show us just how far a school lunch can go.

Occurring live before all summit attendees, the challenge will feature chefs Burrell, host of numerous hit shows on the Food Network and New York Times best-selling cookbook author, and Garces, restaurateur, James Beard Award winner and one of the few chefs in the country to earn the title of Iron Chef America. Brian Giles, senior food services administrator of the Houston Independent School District, will guide Chef Burrell and her teammate, HISD Operations Manager Pamela Guillory, while Paula Angelucci, the nutrition director of the Colonial School District near Wilmington, DE, will provide Chef Garces and Colonial School District Cafeteria Manager Renee Elliott with helpful pointers.

Cooking Light is thrilled to be presenting the ‘Great American School Lunch Challenge’ at this year’s Summit. The work that school nutrition specialists do to ensure that every child has access to a well-balanced meal that tastes delicious is of paramount importance because every meal we feed our children is an opportunity to instill lifelong healthy eating habits,” said Cooking Light Editor Scott Mowbray.

White House Assistant Chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass will host the cook-off, and judges include: Tim Carman, food writer for The Washington Post and recipient of the James Beard Award for food-related columns and commentary; Debra Eschmeyer, co-founder of FoodCorps and recipient of the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award; Scott Mowbray, editor of Cooking Light and award-winning veteran of Time Inc; Amie Valpone, editor-in-chief of and Manhattan-based chef; and the three winners of the Healthy Schools Campaign’s 2011 Cooking Up Change contest.

The Great American School Lunch Challenge, presented by Cooking Light, is one of many events to take place during the two-day conference focused on developing strategies and solutions to help end the childhood obesity epidemic. The inaugural Building a Healthier Future Summit, a sold-out event held in November 2011, brought together leaders from industry, non-profit, government, philanthropic and academic organizations. In 2013, PHA is expanding the summit to include more attendees; new and exciting high-profile speakers; breakouts focused on solving the problem – not just talking about it; a brand new Innovation Challenge; and much more. For more information, visit

The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation’s youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. In 2010, PHA was created in conjunction with – but independent from – First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! effort. PHA is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that is led by some of the nation’s most respected health and childhood obesity experts. PHA brings together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity. Most important, PHA ensures that commitments made are commitments kept by working with unbiased third parties to monitor and publicly report on the progress our partners are making. For more information about PHA, please visit and follow PHA on Twitter @PHAnews.

At 25 years, Cooking Light is the nation’s leading epicurean magazine brand with the largest audience and most epicurean editorial. Cooking Lightis the only epicurean brand positioned where great food meets good health. The brand delivers innovative recipes, nutrition advice, and resources to live a healthful lifestyle via its magazine, website, and portfolio of cookbooks; across all tablets;through the highly-acclaimed Cooking Light Quick & Healthy Menu Maker app; and on social media platforms including, Facebook (, Twitter (@Cooking_Light), Pinterest ( and Instagram. Cooking Light is part of the Time Inc. Lifestyle Group, a division of Time Inc., the largest magazine media company in the U.S.