BOULDER, Colo., Nov. 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Do you know what it takes to get fresh, scratch cooked food on the lunch trays of millions of schoolchildren across America? The Real School Food Challenge, a school lunch recipe competition series, aims to help answer that question. Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161114/438803 Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161114/438804 Chef Ann Foundation (CAF), an organization founded by Chef Ann Cooper and dedicated to improving school food in America, launched the competition in partnership with Steelite International, a world-leading manufacturer for the hospitality industry. The challenge? Who can create the best school lunch recipe that meets USDA healthy school meal guidelines. The catch? Competitors must keep to the average budget schools have to spend per lunch: a measly$1.25. The series kicked-off in Alexandria, VA in September, boasting a celebrity chef line up. Acclaimed DC area chefs Jamie Leeds of JL Restaurant Group (Hank's Oyster Bar, Hank's Pasta Bar, The Twisted Horn), Ris Lacoste of Ris and David Guas of Bayou Bakery wowed guests with their school lunch creations. The event was not only a fundraiser for healthy school food programming, but an awareness raiser. "This was definitely a challenge," comments Chef Guas, "and really opened my eyes to what schools are dealing with on a daily basis." Throughout the evening, the chefs shared their insights and newfound appreciation for the hard work food service teams do every day to feed our children well at school. Chef Ris even put her school lunch creation on her dinner menu. CAF hosted a home cook version in Boulder, CO in October, which drew a crowd of over 65 Boulderites eager to watch friends cook their recipes, taste their dishes and help pick the winner. "It wasn't easy, but we all pulled it off in the end, so I know schools can do it too," comments competitor Christy Vaughan, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Banville Wine Merchants. Chef Ann Cooper, who is Food Services Director for Boulder Valley School District, prepares over 13,000 scratch-cooked meals every day and founded Chef Ann Foundation to help school districts across the country do the same. "One of the key takeaways for me," reflects competitor Jim Moscou, co-founder of Spiffly digital platform, "is that schools need more money and support when it comes to feeding our kids." These are exactly the kinds of insights CAF hoped the challenge would evoke. "Events like this, and this is the start of doing events all over the country, will help not only inform and educate people about the food we have in schools and how much it needs to change, but also understand what happens when you're talking about making a complete meal for $1.25," Chef Ann shared with guests. 30 million kids eating school lunch every day in America, and many schools serve them highly processed heat-and-serve food, a practice that reinforces bad eating habits that contribute to chronic health conditions like childhood obesity and other diet-related diseases.