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New York Agriculture in the Classroom


Mac & Cheese Challenge

About the Mac & Cheese Challenge

From the young to the old, the appetite for macaroni & cheese is big! This beloved comfort food has more variations than we can count, and whether left in its classic cheesy form or used as a base for creative ingredient add-ins – the end product will be delicious.

With cheese taking the starring role, we find ourselves lucky to live in New York where so many delicious cheese varieties are produced. The dairy industry is the largest agricultural sector in the state and makes more than one billion pounds of all cheeses annually. Around 15 billion pounds of milk are produced on nearly 3,200 farms across the Empire State, making New York the 5th largest dairy producing state in the nation.

The Mac & Cheese Challenge allows your students to develop their perfect macaroni & cheese recipe, create marketing materials for their product, and learn about the dairy processing industry in their community. This cross-curricular experience will reinforce core curricular concepts in math, science, ELA, and expose students to career opportunities in our food system.


All classrooms must pre-register to participate in the Mac & Cheese Challenge.

Pre-registration will provide your classroom with the links to two virtual field trip opportunities at a dairy farm and cooking along with a chef making a macaroni and cheese recipe.

Pre-Registration Deadline: November 1, 2023


  • Pre-K through 12th grade students in New York.
  • Students may work in groups or as a classroom.
  • Multiple groups or classrooms from the same school may participate.
  • Pre-registration is required in the respective grade divisions.
  • Homeschool groups and private schools are also eligible to participate.

Challenge Submission Requirements

Student or classroom recipes must create a macaroni and cheese recipe including dairy products.

Submissions must include:
RECIPE: The macaroni & cheese recipe with a photo of the final product.
  • Recipes should include a title, ingredient list with measurements, step-by-step procedures for making the recipe.
  • See this classic macaroni & cheese recipe as an example of layout inspiration.
MARKETING: One effective marketing element, with a slogan.
  • The marketing element can be any form of media and/or art medium; physical and computer-generated art, skits, jingles, songs, etc.
  • If non digital art is created, submissions should include a picture of the finished work. Please do not submit hard copies of student work.
  • If student work is a longer digital media format such as song or skit, please upload the video to a media site such as YouTube or Vimeo and share the link in a Microsoft word document in the submission form.
PHOTOS: Encouraged, but not required, are photos of your students actively participating in the Mac & Cheese Challenge.
  • Submitted photos should only include students whose images are allowed to be shared or used in promotional materials.

Mac & Cheese Challenge submissions should be uploaded no later than 5 pm on Friday, November 17, 2023.

Deadline: 5 pm on Friday, November 17, 2023

Evaluation Criteria

Judging will be based on:

  • The use of dairy products,
  • Inventiveness, authenticity, and accuracy of student recipes,
  • Creativity and effectiveness of the one marketing material.
    • Spelling, grammar, and completeness will also be factored into the review both the recipe and marketing material.
  • Encouraged, but not required, is the submission of photos of your students actively participating in the contest.


  • Primary (Pre-K-2)
  • Intermediate (3-5)
  • Middle School (6-8)
  • High School (9-12)

Submissions will be judged against others in your selected division.


  • 1st Place $250
  • 2nd Place $100
  • 3rd Place $50

The 1st place classroom in each division will receive a complete cheesemaking kit valued at $125.

Contest Timeline

  • Classroom or group contest submissions are due November 17, 2023
  • Winners will be announced by December 8, 2023
  • Ingredient and cooking item reimbursements are due November 29, 2023

Mac & Cheese Challenge Dollars

Pre-registered classrooms in the Mac & Cheese Challenge can be reimbursed up to $50 for cooking supplies (hotplates, pots, utensils, etc.) and food supplies (dairy products, pasta, herbs, spices, etc.). If you are registering more than one class (multiple periods) you are eligible for an additional $25 in reimbursed supplies and ingredients for each class.

Example, if you indicate on your registration form that 4 classes will be participating in the Mac & Cheese Challenge you will be eligible for up to $125 in reimbursed Mac & Cheese Challenge Dollars. ($50 for class 1, and $25 for each of the additional 3 classes.)

To be considered for reimbursement, receipts must be submitted no later than 5 pm on November 29, 2023.

Deadline: 5 pm on November 29, 2023

If you have any questions, please email Josie Maroney –