SAN ANGELO, Texas – Wednesday morning, the Youth Food Challenge, to teach kids about healthy cooking and food preparation, kicked off the San Angelo Stock Show.

Kandice Everitt, the County Extension Agent, Family and Community Health, says this year they have 152 teams for a total of near 600 kids entered in the contest. That’s spread out between three age divisions: Junior, 3rd-5th Grades; Intermediate, 6th- 8th Grades; and Senior, 9th -12th Grades.

Each team is divided into one of four categories: main dish, side dish, appetizer, and healthy dessert. They receive a mystery ingredient with additional pantry items they can purchase with fake money.

Each team is judged on preparation, kitchen safety, food safety, and the correct order of nutrition during the “prep phase”.

Everitt explains, “They get 40 minutes to prepare the dish and during that 40 minutes they have to prepare a presentation that includes nutrition, my plate, how they prepared their dish, the cost analysis of their dish, and food safety.”

This allows youth to use their knowledge in preparing nutritious and safe meals and snacks and adopt behaviors that can help reduce their risk for chronic disease.

Everitt also shares, “We have a contest called Food Show and it’s an individual contest. And so this contest ‘Food Challenge’ builds on that by incorporating the team components to where they can be more hands-on and prepare their dish as a team versus just as an individual.”

The Food Show contest was originally started ten years ago. It was then offered in San Angelo seven years ago with nearly half the number of teams.