Chicago boasts some of the best school gardens and greenhouses in the nation. With 40 agricultural operations, schools have a bounty of locally grown squash, eggplant, tomatoes, and other fruits and veggies at their disposal. But here's the big caveat: School cafeterias aren't allowed to serve the produce that students grow.
Under regulations imposed by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district and its meals provider, Chartwells-Thompson, cafeterias can't serve student-grown produce unless the fruits and veggies were grown without chemicals. However, the same rules don't apply to commercial vendors that currently provide ingredients for school lunches--they can grow produce any way they want.
Produce grown on school property likely contains far fewer chemicals than fruits and veggies produced by industrial mega-farms. Plus, incorporating local, student-grown crops into school meals will make lunches more nutritious and help kids learn healthy eating habits.
Chicago's produce rules were designed to benefit CPS and Chartwells-Thompson, not Chicago students. Take action now, and tell CPS and Chartwells-Thompson to serve student-grown produce in school cafeterias.