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4-H Special Foods Contest Project

male 4-H youth preparing a salad in a silver mixing bowl

The 4-H special foods contest is your door to an epic culinary adventure. Explore resources at your fingertips: Facebook, Pinterest, or Grandma’s cookbooks. Food is the center of almost every social event or gathering. Wow your family and friends with a recipe meeting MyPlate guidelines for healthy living.

Want more flare? Create a destination without leaving your dining area! Coordinate table ware, serving pieces and décor resulting in a theme to enhance the eye and taste appeal of your recipe.

Ages and Stages of Youth Development


Beginners prepare a selected recipe, create a one-meal menu or a healthy snack menu, and visit with judges. Youth will be evaluated on proper cooking techniques, nutrition knowledge, and table setting.


Juniors prepare a recipe, create a one-meal menu with at least four of the five food groups, and visit with judges. Youth will be evaluated on cooking techniques, expanded nutrition knowledge, and table setting with a centerpiece.


Seniors prepare a recipe, plan an all-day menu, and visit with judges. Youth will be largely evaluated on their understanding of nutrition, cooking techniques, food safety, and appropriate table setting with centerpiece.

4-H Programming Priorities


Build life skills such as organization, following directions, time management, responsibility, communication through contest involvement and interaction with judges.

Health & Wellness

MyPlate provides the five key elements of healthy eating patterns and youth understand the importance of a minimum of sixty minutes of physical activity per day.


Understand the importance of food safety: separate to avoid cross-contamination, cook to proper temperatures, and refrigerate promptly and properly.


Youth receive YQCA certification enhancing their understanding of farm to plate concepts and the importance of safe foods entering the public food supply.

Get Involved

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Youth Voice

  • Demonstration on table setting or measuring dry and liquid ingredients
  • Nutrition poster featuring MyPlate
  • Illustrated talk on kitchen safety
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Community Service

  • Collect canned fruits and vegetables for a local food pantry
  • Support community food outreach by serving or delivering meals
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Career Connections

  • Registered dietician
  • Chef
  • Food photographer
  • Weight management counselor
  • Sports nutritionist

Exhibit Ideas

  • Educational display or poster
    • Foods an nutrition
    • Horticulture
    • Dairy foods
    • Food safety
  • Foods and nutrition
    • Muffin
    • Recipe adaptation
  • Horticulture exhibit
  • Home environment
    • Constructed fabric dining and/or kitchen accessory