A major food provider for the Chicago Public School System, Chartwells-Thompson hospitality, is asking farmers in Illinois to contract $500,000 of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables on top of the $1.8 million of national produce purchased last year.
Vice president of Chartwells, Bob Bloomer, said they want local produce served to over 300,000 students in almost 500 schools every day. This would not only help the students, but also the local farmers providing the produce.
In April, the Chicago Board of Education adopted new nutritional standards that promise tastier as well as healthier meals for breakfast and lunch. They want to be at least equal to or exceed the Department of Agriculture’s “gold standard.”
Interestingly, the change came about because the students were upset over the “nasty nachos, mystery meats and oddly colored chicken patties” served in their cafeterias and they took their complaints to the Chicago Board of Education to push for healthier school meals.
This is a big step for Chartwells, CPS, and especially the students. School food is still in the hands of the system, but the students eating the food are becoming more conscious and aware of what is being fed to them and are asking for more, better food.