This article was written by Jessie Hunter, MPH, RD, Director of Domestic Marketing for the American Pulse Association. 

In celebration of International Year of Pulses, the American Pulse Association  presented  the Great School Lunch Contest Powered by Pulses, a national culinary competition for middle and high school students. Sponsored by Bush Brothers and USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, the competition challenged students along with their school nutrition advisors to develop a school lunch with pulses in both the main entree and as a vegetable side dish while meeting the National School Lunch Program  (NLSP) meal requirements. 

Pulses in School Lunch Pulses are counted as either a meat alternate or legume vegetable. Schools are required to serve 1/2 cups of dry peas, beans, or chickpeas  once a week as a vegetable. There are no requirements for serving pulses as a meat alternate. Powered by Pulses encouraged students to develop recipes  o inspire creative uses of pulses in school lunch programs. In order to be credited as a legume vegetable, pulses must be served in an identifiable form i.e.. whole cooked. Exceptions include hummus and smoothies made with cooked pulses. Baked goods made with pulse flours cannot be counted as a vegetable, however some pulse based pastas have special certifications and can be "counted" as a vegetable if served with a recognizable vegetable such as tomato sauce.pulse flours will be added to the USDA School Lunch Program Buyers Guide in the fall of 2016.  While not changing how pulses are credited in school meals,  it does create opportunities for school nutrition programs to learn about pulse flours and how to use them in school meals.

Competition Components 4th- 8th Grade

Create a school lunch menu with both a meat alternative dish and vegetable side dish, each made with at least one of the required ingredients. 

Bush’s Best bean products selected from specified listing -AND- Dry pea, lentil,or chickpea (whole or as ingredient -such as powder, flour, pasta) Submit a marketing plan for introducing menu at their school.

9th-12th Grade

Same as 4th -8th grade with the additional requirement that the top ten teams conduct a taste test at their school. The scores from the taste test plus the judges score determined the top three teams.

The final competition was a cooking demonstration at the Annual National Conference of the School Nutrition Association in San Antonio, Texas July 10-12, 2016


The top three teams in both age categories won cash prizes for their school nutrition program. The top three high school teams won a trip to present their menus at the culinary demonstrations stage, a special training at the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio, where the learned new culinary techniques for preparing pulses. High school advisors won cash prizes for their efforts.


4th- 8th Grade 1st place team The Chef Squad Students: Mia Bucich, Gracie Bent, Adam Clarke,  Advisors: Lucille Barresi and Lynn Schwartz from Heritage Middle School in Livingston, New Jersey

Pulsonal Pizza, Supreme Bean Soup, grapes, and 1% milk.

The Pulsonal Pizza features Bush's Best kidney, white, and garbanzo beans with garbanzo bean flour crust. The Supreme Bean Soup features  pinto, white, and kidney beans with rice, and cauliflower.

Finalists cont. 

Three teams from across the country and their advisors joined Jessie Hunter, Director of Domestic Marketing in San Antonio to compete in the final culinary demonstration determining the placement of the teams.  Chef LJ Klink moderated the demos encouraging the students to discuss their menu, what they learned, and what inspired them to join the competition. Culinary demonstration observers voted for their favorite team based on  presentation skills. The audience vote along with the judges votes determined the final wining team.

1st Place: Team B&R

Students: Darryl Burkes, Chris Rainey
Advisor: Denise Schindler
Ritenour High School, St Louis Missouri

Sweet Chickpeas with Rice
Awesome Egg Rolls
Pineapple tidbits & Mandarin oranges
Steamed broccoli
1% milk

2nd Place: Team Chariho

Students: Arianna Angilly, Ashley Perez, Nathan Lambert
Advisor: Linda Musch Chariho
Career & Technical Center,  Wood River Junction, Rhode Island

Aztec Shepard’s Pie
Mexican Salad Bowl
Cantaloupe Melon
1% Milk

3rd Place: Team ReMarKable Chefs

Students: Rachel Snyder, Marcella Cross, Karoline Herkamp
Advisor: Andrea Foley
West Salem High School,  Salem, Oregon

ReMarKable Burger
ReMarKable Muffin
Carrot sticks
1% milk

Find the top winning recipes  and school nutrition resources at