4-H Food Show and Challenge

There are some exciting changes to the 2020-2021 Food Show Contest! Please check out this training video hosted by our District 4 FCH Agents to get all the information! Contest date and location is TBA. Click here to view: https://youtu.be/K2ppUdH4Ujo

County Food Show will be scheduled for January due – please stay tuned for date and time


The Texas 4-H Food Challenge contest is one of the most popular contests in the 4-H program and this year it is getting a facelift! Changes have been made to the contest for several reasons:

 To reflect consistency with other state and national contests.
 To reflect comments and suggestions from agents, 4-H members, and coaches.
 To reflect easier to use resources for our youth.
 To reflect the need to continuously evaluate the success of our programs!

At the Food Challenge, teams of 3-4 students receive a list of ingredients and have 40 minutes to create a dish. The teams then present their dish to judges are scored on preparation, serving size, food safety concerns, nutritional value and cost. Students qualify at the country and district level to compete at the state contest. Review all the rules in the Food Challenge Manual.

Attached you will find the updated Texas 4-H Food Challenge Guide with changes reflected throughout, as well as contest resources. Please use this guide as you begin preparation for the new 4-H year. Below is a summary of major changes; please see the guide for additional changes, updates, or modifications which are denoted with this bullet:

New for the 2020 – 2021 Year

CATEGORIES: There will be four food categories in each age division. The new categories for this year are:  Appetizer, Main Dish, Side Dish, and Healthy Dessert.

GROCERY STORE VERSUS PANTRY: The traditional “pantry” has been renamed the “grocery store.” Please see the descriptions below for the differences.

  • Grocery Store – Teams will have access to a “grocery store” of additional ingredients which can be “purchased” and combined with the team’s “key” ingredient to create an original recipe/dish during the contest. The “grocery store” will include items commonly found in grocery stores such as produce, canned goods, crackers, dairy products, etc. Teams must “purchase” at least two additional items from the “grocery store”. Teams will be provided a set dollar amount to “spend” at the store; each item in the store will be priced and teams must calculate cost according to total spent.
  • Pantry – There will not be a “pantry” of “free” items at the state contest. Instead, teams can now provide their own “pantry” items within their equipment box. Only those items listed in the equipment box list may be included in the team’s “pantry.” See below for that list.

EQUIPMENT BOX: Below are updates to the equipment box for 2020-21.

  • Sanitizing Wipes or Bleach Solution Spray – Finding sanitizing wipes is proving difficult at this time; therefore, teams may include a bleach solution spray in their equipment box instead. This solution should follow guidelines as outlined in the link provided on the equipment list and be contained in a labeled spray bottle.
  • Gadget of the Year – The gadget of the year will now be featured for two consecutive years to help defray equipment costs for teams.
  • Pantry Ingredients – Each team may include in their equipment box the following “pantry” ingredients. There is no requirement to use these items, nor is it mandatory that teams include these in their supply box.
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Oil (16 oz)
    • 1 jar chicken bouillon
    • 1 medium onion
    • 2 (14 oz) cans vegetables and/or fruit – team choice
    • Rice (white or brown) or pasta (16 oz) –team choice

No additional pantry items will be made available at the state contest; instead, teams will use the “grocery store” to “purchase” additional items as outlined in the rules. During the Final Challenge at Texas 4-H Roundup, teams will only be allowed to use items from the “grocery store.” Pantry items in the equipment box will need to be removed prior to the Final Food Challenge.

Supply Box Changes:

Quantities for a few items have changed.  Please refer to the list for these changes.  Also, a new “Gadget of the Year” has been added! The previous gadget should be removed from the equipment box.


Each team member is now required to wear closed toe shoes AND a hair restraint (hair net, cap, bandana, etc.).

Scorecard Changes:

Scorecards have been updated to reflect subject matter to be included in presentations AND a new numerical scoring system.

Contest Resources:

Other Resources


Quantities and sizes of a few items have changed. Please refer to the list for these changes. Also, a new “Gadget of the Year” has been added! This will change annually to give teams an opportunity to learn how to use various kitchen gadgets.

Presentation Changes:
ALL team members must now participate and have a speaking role during the presentation to the judges.

Scorecard Changes:
Scorecards have been updated to reflect subject matter to be included in presentations AND a new numerical scoring system. Although space is limited on the front of the scorecard for judge’s comments, agents should encourage judges to use back of sheet for commenting.

The Texas 4-H Food and Nutrition Project continues to be one of the most popular project areas in the state. This project is the foundation for healthy eating and reduction of chronic disease risks. The Food Challenge Contest is just one avenue to teaching youth how to improve their health habits!

2021 District Food Challenge Guide and Rules

  • Guidelines and Rules Coming Soon after January
  • Date of Contest TBA
  • Location.  TBA.

2021 County Food Challenge Guides

  • Guide to First Time Chefs Coming Soon
  • County Guidelines Coming Soon
  • For really cool videos on different parts of the Food Challenge competition go to the Youth Section of Foods and Nutrition


This year the theme is “Grocery Games”

…Let your local food sources guide your healthy recipe selection with only $10 to spend!  

2020-2021 State Texas 4-H Food Show Rules

Please pay close attention in the guidelines as several things have changed, including:

  • Dish Categories – Texas 4-H Food Show dish categories are: Appetizer, Main Dish, Side Dish, and Healthy Dessert
  • SKILL SHOWCASE: Food show contestants will showcase a skill learned in the food and nutrition project area when they bring their dish to be judged.
  • KNOWLEDGE SHOWCASE: Food show contestants will test their knowledge on food preparation, food safety, kitchen safety, and general nutrition knowledge in the quiz section of the food show. Contestants will be given a 10-question quiz which will contain multiple choice and true/false questions.
  • Paperwork: The ONLY paperwork which will be required for the 2020 Texas 4-H Roundup Food Show is the recipe.
  • Scorecard: The scorecard has been updated.

For complete guidelines and additional updates, please review the 2019-2020 Food Show Rules.

2021 District Food Show Guide –

  • District Guidelines and Rules Coming Soon after January
  • Date of Contest TBA
  • Location.  TBA


At the Food Show you choose a recipe from the contest categories and then prepare and present it to a panel of judges. During your interview with the judges, you will show how you prepared it, the nutrients and ingredients, personal dietary needs, healthy substitutions, and a cost analysis.

Food Show Study Resources

Food Show Theme Resources

Food Show Recipe Resource

This Dinner Tonight website has GREAT videos on how to cook dishes and they prepare them right in front of YOU!!  So watch and learn about chop size, food safety, food Handling and more!  Then go make the dish for your family.. great fun with with the family.

Volunteer Resources

Comments are closed.