11/01/2011 - On a cold and rainy morning last month, public school students in Chicago were greeted by an unfamiliar aroma — the homey fragrance of freshly baked chicken.
That might not seem like such a big deal.
But the appearance of recognizable pieces of bone-in chicken on lunch trays represents an important step toward meeting upcoming government guidelines calling for a reduction of processed foods and sodium in school meals.
On Tuesday, Chicago Public Schools will go even further. Drumsticks from chickens raised on Amish farms without the use of antibiotics will be served at the 473 schools catered by Chartwells-Thompson. The company plans to buy about 1.2 million pounds of unprocessed Amish chicken this year for CPS, the largest district in the nation to make such a commitment.
The food will provide a lunch of unprocessed chicken at least twice a month for more than 300,000 students. Half of those lunches will feature Miller Amish Country Poultry raised without antibiotics on Indiana farms.
Pew served as an adviser to CPS through its Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming, which has promoted legislation in Congress to reduce the use of nontherapeutic antibiotics in animal production as a means of preserving their effectiveness in humans.
With the legislation currently stalled, Pew has shifted its focus to consumer education — particularly among mothers — and has helped districts build antibiotic awareness into their meat purchases.
"We think we should be treating antibiotics like a national treasure," said Laura Rogers, director of the Pew campaign. "If you have a headache or an allergy, you can take medicine and it's not going to affect whether I have allergies or a headache. But with antibiotics, any use at any time reduces their effectiveness."
Read the full article, Amish-raised Chicken on CPS Lunch Menu, on the Chicago Tribune's Web site.