Students Craft Delicious Meatless Meals for School Lunch Recipe Contest

July 18th, 2016

Last week, at the Annual National Conference of the School Nutrition Association in San Antonio, Texas, three hardworking teams of high school students faced off to create delicious, student-approved meatless meals in the final round of the Powered by Pulses Great School Lunch recipe contest. The contest is part of the year-long celebration of the United Nations’ International Year of Pulses.

The contest, sponsored by the American Pulse Association, the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council and Bush’s Beans, brought together talented aspiring chefs from high schools in Salem, OR, Wood River Junction, RI and St. Louis, MO to celebrate the important role that pulses (dried beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas) can play in school meals.

Each of the three teams of finalists, selected from a national pool of entrants, created two recipes featuring at least one pulse item each. They then crafted complete National School Lunch Program-compliant meals that included their recipes alongside side dishes like steamed broccoli and diced apples. The competitors were also responsible for submitting a marketing plan for their meals, designed to educate fellow students on the delicious benefits of pulses.

Meatless Monday’s registered dietitian and recipe editor Diana Rice served as a guest judge for the contest. “It was very inspiring to see such young, talented chefs working hard to offer up these delicious meatless meals. I honestly had a hard time picking my favorite! Each recipe was absolutely delicious and each team worked extremely hard,” Rice said.

The recipes included:


Sweet Potato & Bean Burgers and Cinnamon Apple Lentil Muffins
from West Salem High in Salem, Oregon

shepherds pie

Aztec Shepherd’s Pie and Mexican Salad Bowl
from Chariho Career and Technical Center in Wood River Junction, Rhode Island

awesome egg rolls and sweet chickpeas

Awesome Egg Rolls and Sweet Chickpeas with Rice
from Ritenour High School in St. Louis, Missouri

Although the contest was close, the students from Ritenour High School took home the top prize for their Awesome Egg Rolls and Sweet Chickpeas with Rice. The school plans to introduce the dishes on their lunch menu this upcoming school year as Meatless Monday options.

Around the country, school districts including Los Angeles, San Diego and Detroit (and many more!) are serving up delicious meatless meals to thousands of students each Monday. If your school or district is interested in joining the movement, check out our free e-cookbook, Meatless Monday Goes to School, our free K-12 toolkit and contact us at