Healthier chicken served in Chicago schools

November 1, 2011 3:36:47 PM PDT
Students dining in 473 Chicago schools Tuesday were served local chicken raised without antibiotics.

Chicago Public Schools started a new chicken program with fresh chicken purchased from Miller Amish Country Poultry in Indiana.

CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said he wants to ensure children have the best nutritional options because it impacts their ability to be more successful in the classroom.

The school district purchases 2.5 million pounds of unprocessed chicken annually. Now, 1.2 million will come from Amish farmers.

Students will be offered bone-in-chicken two to three times each month. The rest of the time students will be served processed nuggets and patties.

Students at Shoesmith Elementary School in Hyde Park were excited about their school lunch today containing healthy food.

"I thought it was better," said student Madison Mosley. "It tastes different compared to other foods they usually have."

CPS along with food provider Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality said the change is an important step in meeting upcoming government guidelines calling for a reduction of processed foods and sodium in school meals.

"It costs just a couple of pennies more," said Jean Saunders of Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality. "We recognize that this is the kind of food that students are looking for and we need to step up to the plate."

Said CPS's Annie Lionberger, "We see this as a continuation to improve the food students receive everyday. We are thrilled to be one of the first in the country to offer this to our students."

Student Joseph Beard was hesitant about the new chicken but after tasting it, he said. "It is more healthier than what they usually give us. It's pretty good now that I tasted it."

The fresh chicken arrives frozen. CPS staff were trained on how to thaw, prepare and serve it. CPS plans to provide students with this healthy chicken at least twice a month. Students were pleased with today's Asian chicken with rice, broccoli and fresh fruit.

CPS and Chartwells-Thompson partnered with Whole Foods Market and the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming to offer the antibiotic-free chicken.

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