Student Chef Finds New Passion in Healthy Cooking

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Student Chef Finds New Passion in Healthy Cooking

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This Thanksgiving, students are thankful for healthy meals at home and in school. Meet Leon Sanchez, a student chef cooking up positive change.

Inspired by his grandmother, Sanchez started cooking to make positive changes in his life. Cooking healthy food became a new passion for him, especially, he says, because it can help kids his age lead longer, healthier lives. 

In 2013, he put his culinary skills to the test at Cooking up Change, a contest hosted by the Healthy Schools Campaign. The event called on students from across the country to develop healthy meals that can be prepared in school kitchens. Sanchez and his team prepared Mexican-inspired dishes—chicken rancheros, corn elotes, and tropical de fruta—that delivered on taste while also meeting the USDA's updated nutrition standards for school meals. 

In the fight against childhood obesity and other chronic health problems, schools across the country are finding the right recipe for meals that meet nutrition standards and student tastes. Sanchez hopes to keep learning about healthier cooking and adapting recipes to make them more nutritious.

Learn more about Cooking up Change at

Visit to learn more about supporting healthy, safe meals at school.

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