WBEZ | aramark http://www.wbez.org/tags/aramark Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en How is the new chow in CPS schools? http://www.wbez.org/news/how-new-chow-cps-schools-109272 <p><p>After more than a decade with the same lunch provider, Chicago Public Schools hired a new catering company, Aramark, to produce its school food this year.</p><p>The new caterer promised to boost sales, make tastier food and even serve up organic salad every day. It&rsquo;s been three months since Aramark launched its menus in the district and we thought it was time to see how it&rsquo;s going.</p><p>Wednesday on Afternoon Shift we talk to Leslie Fowler, the director of nutritional support services at CPS, and a group of kids who are on a mission to improve wellness among CPS students.</p><p>Fowler, who worked for Aramark in Rochester, before becoming school food chief in Chicago says that Aramark has improved food and sales since taking over the $100 million-plus contract at CPS.</p><p>&ldquo;What Aramark offered was an opportunity to do organic salad in our schools and have one consistent menu across the district,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SCHOOL%20PIZZA.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="CPS lunch (Courtesy of anonymous CPS students)" /></p><p>The administrator says that students seem to be enjoying the meals and notes that school lunch participation (meaning how many kids take lunch) is up 3 percent this year to 55 percent of students. Still, that&rsquo;s in a district where 88 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch.</p><p>Accounting has been a problem in the past with tallies of students lunch sales completed by hand each day. Fowler says that this will all be streamlined early next year when all schools go to a system of swipe cards that will allow students to pay electronically and for the district &ldquo;to enter the 21 Century.&rdquo;</p><p>In recent years the district, which, in 2009 was serving nachos and fries to high school kids every day, has undergone some changes aimed at healthier meals. Lunch sales have dropped off in those years and Fowler says that pizza and spicy chicken patties are still the top sellers but hopes to change that through education.</p><p>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the WBEZ podcast <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/chewing-fat-podcast-louisa-chu-and-monica-eng" target="_blank">Chewing the Fat</a>. Follow her at <a href="http://twitter.com/monicaeng" target="_blank">@monicaeng</a></p></p> Wed, 27 Nov 2013 14:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-new-chow-cps-schools-109272 New CPS menu includes ‘organic salad’ every day http://www.wbez.org/news/new-cps-menu-includes-%E2%80%98organic-salad%E2%80%99-every-day-108461 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/usda_lunch.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Fresh organic green salads will be offered to all Chicago Public School students every day of the upcoming school year, according to new 2013-2014 CPS menus obtained by WBEZ.</p><p>The lunch and breakfast menus offer a first glimpse of what the district&rsquo;s new caterer, Aramark, will serve more than 400,000 Chicago Public School children starting Aug. 26.</p><p>These daily organic romaine lettuce salads come as part of a food contract that saves the district $12 million over its last caterer. The menus, which cover the months of August and September, may change and could vary slightly from school to school. At the high school level, students are offered several options each day from various restaurant-style stations, such as &ldquo;Green Street Deli&rdquo; and &ldquo;Corner Crust Pizza.&rdquo; But not every school may offer every option.</p><p>Menu items of note include a &ldquo;breakfast for lunch&rdquo; entree of pancakes and sausage that will be served to at high schools twice every month and elementary schools once a month. High schoolers will also be offered new items such as bruschetta pizza, chicken and ham jambalaya and cheesy baked potatoes served with corn chips.</p><p>As part of a culinary theme featuring &quot;ingredients and flavors born in Chicago,&quot; the menus list a Mexican nacho bar, barbecued chicken pizza, taco pizza, a taco burger and &ldquo;Chicago beef sandwiches.&rdquo;</p><p>Without comment from CPS or Aramark officials, it was not immediately clear how taco pizza and taco burgers illustrated &ldquo;Chicago flavors.&rdquo;</p><p>In a nod to a Latino population that makes up the largest demographic (44 percent) of the CPS student body and the growing popularity of spicy snacks among American teens in general, high school menus feature a consistent &quot;Tortilla Fresh Mex&quot; selection and at least one item with jalapeños, salsa or buffalo sauce each week. &nbsp;</p><p>In honor of our famously dressed local wiener, Chicago style hot dogs appear on both the elementary and high school menus. High school students will also be offered several different styles of pizza every week.</p><p>The most popular item under CPS&rsquo;s previous vendor, Chartwells, was the &ldquo;spicy chicken sandwich.&rdquo; The new menus include some type of breaded chicken product every month for elementary schoolers and every week for high schoolers.</p><p>Elementary school selections will change daily, starting with chicken nuggets or &ldquo;dippin&rsquo; mozzarella sticks&quot; on the first day of school.</p><p>New USDA fruit and vegetable rules require that an orange or green vegetable be offered twice a week. Aramark&#39;s include french fries, tater tots, green pepper strips, corn, fresh broccoli, cinnamon sweet potatoes, sweet potato tots, steamed squash, collard greens, sweet potato fries, seasoned greens and tomato wedges.</p><p>Philadelphia based Aramark won the $100 million contract to cater CPS lunchrooms--the largest single such contract in North America--last spring despite protests from the district&#39;s previous caterer Chartwells Thompson. CPS had worked with Chartwells for more than a decade.</p><p>Chartwells had improved its menus, that at one time offered daily nachos for high schools, by sourcing more local produce and chicken raised without antibiotics to the menus. The company&#39;s regional chief, however, was <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-03-12/news/ct-met-cps-chartwells-investigation-0312-20120312_1_cps-students-cps-officials-chartwells-thompson-hospitality">criticized for giving unauthorized gifts</a> to the head of CPS food service, who <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-03-17/news/chi-cps-chief-brizard-seeks-to-fire-louise-esaian-head-of-schools-food-service-following-scandal-20120317_1_cps-employees-jean-claude-brizard-inspector-general-james-sullivan">resigned after an investigation</a> by the CPS Inspector General in the spring of 2012.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a>. Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/beckyleah15">@beckyleah15</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 20 Aug 2013 09:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/new-cps-menu-includes-%E2%80%98organic-salad%E2%80%99-every-day-108461