Last week WBEZ reported on a special taco meal
that was supposed to be served in every Chicago Public School along with optional lesson plans about the kind of cultural fusion the taco meal represents.
The meals and lesson plans were organized and paid for some of the city’s top chefs who have formed a group called Pilot Light.
At least one Chicago Public School got a lunch menu that looked like this for last Thursday, indicating they would not be getting the special tacos al pastor at all. (WBEZ/Courtesy of Chicago Public School student)
But WBEZ has heard from staff, parents and students from several Chicago Public Schools that the meal never arrived Thursday. One even shared the school’s Thursday lunch schedule, on which the taco meal was crossed out and replaced with another dish.
Another complaint came from Hyde Park parent, William Mitchell, who intentionally sent his son to school without a lunch from home that day because he’d heard the WBEZ story. But when his son got home he said they never got the meal.
“My son told me, ‘We just had a bag lunch and I think it was some peanut butter bar fruit and milk’.” Mitchell recalls. “And I was like ‘wait, whoa whoa’.”
Mitchell said his son later told him that they ended up serving a taco on Friday.
Still, when WBEZ brought the multiple reports to CPS officials this week, the district would not say how many schools actually did or didn’t serve the tacos on Thursday, or at all. Nor did it say what happened to the donated food and money if the meals didn’t reach all the schools.
Pilot Light executive director Alexandra DeSorbo-Quinn said she’d also gotten reports of schools that didn’t get the tacos last Thursday. But after looking into the reports, she says, “We haven’t heard any reports of schools not getting the tacos at all.”
She issued a statement saying:
“Partnering with CPS and the USDA on this event was a very exciting opportunity for Pilot Light. We introduced our food education curriculum to many more students and teachers across the city by augmenting it with a school lunch…. As is the case with any first time event, there were challenges. We hope to streamline these in the future and look forward to next time.”
The Friday after the chefs’ taco lunch was supposed to be served in all schools, CPS high schools served this packaged gordita to students, which could have added to the confusion over the meals. (WBEZ/Courtesy of Chicago Public School student)
One student noted that there could have been some confusion about tacos arriving later because Old El Paso gorditas, served in plastic bags, were served to CPS' high school students for lunch on Friday.
Monica Eng is a WBEZ food and health reporter. Follow her at @monicaeng or write to her at email@example.com