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CPS Garden Produce Forbidden In Lunchrooms

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(Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) - This fall, young gardeners at the Chicago Public Schools are harvesting the fruits of their labor, but they won’t be the ones enjoying it.

About 40 schools have gardens where children can grow fruits, vegetables and herbs – from squash to basil. Some schools have greenhouses where students can plant crops year-round, the Chicago Triune reported.

But none of the produce from the 40 CPS gardens ever makes its way into the school lunchrooms, the Tribune reported. Because of an agreement between CPS and Chartwells-Thompson, which provides school meals, all the food from the gardens is given away, the Tribune reported.

CPS spokeswoman Monique Bond told the newspaper that the produce from the school gardens would have to meet certain certified growing practices, including eliminating all pesticides and insecticides, and using only commercially-prepared compost and fertilizers. But commercial vendors are not bound be the same requirements, the Tribune reported.

The Tribune reported that the chef at Alcott Elementary School, 2625 N. Orchard St., had asked to serve food from the school garden in the lunchroom as part of the Organic School Project, but administrators deemed the produce unsafe and refused.

Despite the stringent policy on school garden produce compared with commercial vendors, CPS and Chartwells-Thompson did agree to new nutritional guidelines this year.

Under rules that went into effect this school year, food with dessert or “candy-type” ingredients or flavors such as chocolate is out, with the solitary exception of Chocolate Mini-Wheats.

Breakfast cereals may not have more than 5 grams of sugar unless they also have 3 or more grams of fiber. Dark green or orange vegetables are to be served three times a week, a whole grain offering will be offered every day, and fruit juice will be available only twice a week.

Doughnuts and Pop-Tarts have been eliminated altogether.