These urban oases, carefully tended by teachers, students and volunteers, range from several square feet to several acres of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers, and some schools even grow plants year-round in school greenhouses.But one thing the more than 40 gardens have in common is that none of the produce ever finds its way into CPS lunchrooms. Instead, because of rules set by the district and its meal provider, the food is sold or given away.
Much of this has to do with food safety fears -- though perhaps the food service company Chartwells, which runs the school food program in Chicago, goes a bit overboard in suggesting that kids should only eat food grown by trained "professionals."
But how's this for irony -- Chartwells requires that school-garden-grown food must be pesticide-free yet virtually all the food it serves in cafeterias isn't. Oh, and the kids can take the fresh produce home and eat it -- they just can't serve it in school.
Ain't bureaucracy grand? The good news is that the new school food chief in the Chicago system is trying to get the rules changed so kids in Chicago, like kids in the rest of the country, can eat in school the food they're growing in school.
CC Photo credit: Joe Marinaro