Acheson to emcee school lunch competition set for March 19

February 26th, 2016

Athens, Ga. – Local chefs will take on the School Lunch Challenge on March 19, creating tasty dishes that meet USDA requirements for the National School Lunch Program.

Attendees will have a chance to sample the creations at the cooking competition from 12-1:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of Whitehead Road Elementary School.

Building on increased interest in the National School Lunch Program, and inspired by the 2014 exhibition, Food, Power, Politics: The Story of School Lunch, the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies and others partnered in 2015 to create a fun, educational event to engage the Athens community with the past, present, and future of school lunch.

“Richard Russell co-sponsored the legislation which created the National School Lunch Program in 1946. We are glad to host this event that draws attention to the NSLP today, and our planning team is excited to make this an annual happening in Athens,” said organizer Jan Hebbard, outreach archivist at the Russell Library.

The 2016 event will expand attendance from 150 to 200 people, and offer hands-on activities and cooking demonstrations, in addition to the competition. Local chef Hugh Acheson will serve as the master of ceremonies.

Acheson recently launched Seed Life Skills, a non-profit committed to revamping Family and Consumer Science curriculum, supporting education that teaches skills including hands-on culinary instruction, conscious consumer economics, and D.I.Y. design principles.

Once again, the centerpiece of this event will be a cooking competition that invites participating teams, advised by members of the Clarke County School District (CCSD), to create dishes in accordance with USDA guidelines for the National School Lunch Program. A panel of student judges drawn from CCSD schools will vote to determine an overall winner.

The winning team’s plate will be incorporated into the CCSD school lunch menu during the 2016-2017 school year. 

Last year The National was voted the overall winner. Led by Chef Emmanuel Stone, the restaurant team won over judges with a deluxe chicken burrito and a side of broccoli with cheese. Adapted into a burrito bowl to reduce preparation time, this recipe debuted on the CCSD School Lunch Menu on Nov. 1 to rave reviews.

The National team will return to defend their title against new competitors Pulaski Heights BBQ, The Pine, and a team made up of family and consumer science teachers from the Clarke County School District.  

A variety of organizations connected to sustainable agriculture, community gardens, childhood nutrition and farm to school programs in the Athens area will host information tables at the event. A display of historical documents and artifacts related to the history of the National School Lunch Program will also be on display. 

The event is free and open to the public but attendance will be capped at 200 people. Tickets are available beginning Feb. 26 through the Eventbrite website.

Attendees are encouraged to bring donation items to benefit the Food 2 Kids program operated by the Foodbank of Northeast Georgia. Requested items include beans-n-franks (pop-top cans) and jars of peanut butter.  

The 2016 School Lunch Challenge is sponsored by the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, the Clarke County School District, the Athens Land Trust, Athens Farm to School, UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences and Department of Foods and Nutrition, The Fresh Market, Seed Life Skills, and Heirloom Cafe.   

To obtain tickets visit  

For more information, contact Jan Hebbard at or (706) 542-5788.

Categories: Foods and Nutrition
Tags: richard russell library, national school lunch program, hugh acheson

In this category: Foods and Nutrition