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Matias Verapinto Wins Local Sodexo Future Chefs Challenge

What’s the best way to encourage kids to eat healthy snacks?  Have them make it themselves! That’s the idea behind Sodexo’s Annual Future Chefs Challenge.  Now in its 9th year, the Sodexo Future Chefs Challenge encourages 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students nationwide to take an active part in making healthy food choices while being creative in the kitchen.  This year, 75 San José Unified School District (SJUSD) students entered their favorite Mexican inspired recipes in hopes of winning the district wide 2019 “Top Chef” award. 

Recipes were judged on their originality, healthy attributes, ease of preparation, kid appeal, plate presentation and use of featured ingredients.  On Tuesday, March 19,  ten contestants participated in a live cook off held at Gunderson High School in San José, CA with a final winner selected by a panel of seven judges.  “Each year I am awed at the creativity and commitment of our students as they take part in the Future Chefs Challenge.  Our students practice preparing their recipes for weeks prior to the event. When the final day arrives, they know exactly what to do and how to present their prepared dish like a professional chef,” stated Nancy Albarrán, Superintendent for the San José Unified School District.

Matias Verapinto, a 3rd grade student at San José Unified’s Booksin Elementary won for his recipe titled “Chilaquiles.”  San José Unified joins 266 other school districts across the country hosting Future Chefs events throughout February and March.  Matias will now be considered for one of 40 regional finalist awards.  Selected regional finalists will then vie to become one of five national finalists, competing for the public’s vote on SodexoUSA.com. Today’s first place winner won a wide range of cooking related gifts. In addition, the first, second and third place winners won a VISA gift card. 

List of San José Unified’s place winners:

1st Place: Matias Verapinto/ 3rd Grade/ Booksin Elem./ Chilaquiles
2nd Place: Allie Ormsby/ 5th Grade/ Hacienda Elem./ Fiesta Bacon Guacamole
3rd Place: Claire O’Donnell/ 4th Grade/Booksin Elem./ Enchilada Pie
4th Place: Cassandra Lopez / 3rd Grade/Booksin Elem./ Torta de Chorizo
4th Place: Naylen Saito/ 3rd Grade/ Booksin Elem./ Nacho Average Tacos
4th Place: Joziah Suarez/3rd Grade/Carson Elem./ Deconstructed Taco Salad Bowl w/Plantain Chips
4th Place: Kate Routon/5th Grade/ Willow Glen Elem./ Shrimp Quesadilla with Mango Salsa
4th Place: Ava Heiser/ 3rd Grade/ Willow Glen Elem./ Taco Ring
4th Place: Sanika Mehta/ 4th Grade/Williams Elem./ Super Nacho Tacos
4th Place: Sophia Han/5th Grade/Williams Elem./ Mexican Pasta Salad

“According to the American Heart Association, about one in every three American kids and teens is overweight or obese,” said Stephen Dunmore, CEO North America, Schools, Sodexo. “This staggering statistic demonstrates why it is more important than ever to engage youth to become advocates for their own health.”

About San José Unified
Serving close to 30,000 students from transitional kindergarten through high school in 41 schools from Downtown San José to the Almaden Valley, San José Unified (SJUSD) is Silicon Valley’s largest and most diverse school system.

About Sodexo
The school nutrition partner to over 425 school districts throughout the U.S.,  Sodexo is renowned for its work advancing childhood nutrition, health and well-being. In November 2016, Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) named Sodexo “Partner of the Year” based in part on early success on elements of its commitments for increasing healthier food options in the K-12 schools it serves; providing healthier meal options for children at zoo, museum and aquarium locations served by Sodexo; and for its commitment to serve 17 million additional free breakfasts to K-12 students by 2018, a goal Sodexo met two years early.

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