473
schools

300,000
students

1,200,000
pounds of antibiotic-free chicken

There is a big announcement from the windy city this week and this time it relates to school lunches. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced that on November 1st, they would begin serving antibiotic-free (ABF) chicken too all 300,000+ students i their 473 schools. The deal with main food service provider, Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality, will bring 1.2 million pounds of locally grown ABF chicken to Chicago schools.

It is a tremendous accomplishment for the third-largest school district in the country to take a stand against antibiotics in chicken. Systematic use of small doses of antibiotics in animal feed is rampant in most of today’s animal production. The drugs are used so animals can withstand the extremely crowded and unnatural living conditions in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). In 2009, almost 29 million pounds of antibiotics were used on farm animals in the United States.

This project has singled out chicken because it is the most popular protein served in schools. Another huge benefit is that the chicken will actually be cooked in ovens and stove tops in school kitchens. As reported in Wired.com:

“It also brings real food back into schools: This chicken will be cooked in the schools themselves. Preparing raw chicken in school kitchens, which until recently might have lacked real ovens or trained cooks, is a significant step — but it also promises a huge improvement in  kids’ nutrition during the day over the pre-formed nuggets and patties they would otherwise get.”

When mainstream institutions such as schools take a stand against something like antibiotics in our poultry, it can have a wonderful trickle-down effect. The children no longer get unnecessary drugs in their school lunches, other schools take notice and begin to demand the same thing, and the industry has to start taking notice and figure out other ways of raising food animals without systematic antibiotic use. Another benefit? Maybe a few parents will start to understand the importance of buying quality meat and change their poultry at home too. Kudos Chicago!

This project was a collaboration between many organizations including: Chicago Public Schools, Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality, School Food FOCUS (Food Options for Children in the U.S), Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming. Whole Foods helped facilitate negotiations with one producer, Miller Amish Country Poultry of  Orland, Indiana.

Straight to the Source: Chicago Public Schools Largest District to Serve Chicken Raised without Antibiotics

Image: D12