Gold Star School Lunches
Meet a public school in Chicago that serves 100 percent organic food
By Marygrace Taylor
All too often, itís whatís wrong with school lunches that grabs the headlines. But here at KIWI, we know that plenty of schools are working hard to improve their food. Thatís why four years ago, we launched the KIWI Crusaders Awards to acknowledge what meal programs are doing right. Here, one of our 2011 KIWI Crusaders winners: (And check back with MyHealthySchool.com soon to hear more about our 2012 search!)
Academy for Global Citizenship, Chicago
There are a whole lot of impressive things about the K-4 charter school (classroom composting, a chicken coop, and daily yoga to name a few), but the most impressive of all might be that 100 percent of the food served at the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) is organic. "Currently, we spend about 60 cents more per meal than what the government allots us, but vendors have worked with us to find a middle ground that keeps us both in business," says Dan Schnitzer, AGCís director for sustainability and operations. As a charter school, they receive additional funding through grants, but they also find creative ways to save money by minimizing food waste and analyzing costs to develop less-expensive menus.
Opened four years ago, AGC embraces a holistic approach, promoting environmental sustainability for its 250 students. The school uses green cleaning products, recycles, and serves healthy meals made from scratch. In the morning, kids clamor for oat flour pancakes with fresh berry compote; at lunchtime, itís tofu steaks with maple marinade.
Most of the produce served at AGC is locally sourced, and soon, thanks in part to the award money, some of it will come from the schoolís backyard: AGC is working to pilot a school garden cafeteria food safety manual that will enable them to serve food from their garden in the cafeteria.
Most popular lunch: Chicken or tofu teriyaki stir-fry
Recent healthy update: Switching all frozen and processed items for in-house food made entirely from scratch
Studentsí reaction in one word: Delicious!
What parents can do: Start working with the school, but donít expect everything to change right away. "Demanding massive change all at once wonít work," Schnitzer says. Pick one thing at a time to work on, and make it the new norm before moving on.