Chicken nearly disappeared from L.A. school lunches. Now, it’s making a comeback
For more than a year, one of the foods Los Angeles students like best has been all but absent from school menus.
Last month, high school students, with two entree choices at lunch, were offered an oven-baked drumstick on the 24th — but that was it for chicken.
Los Angeles Unified School District had been budgeting up to $20 million on chicken a year. Then its school board set new standards for how suppliers should treat their poultry, their workers and the environment. Contract talks with Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride, the nation’s largest two suppliers, fell apart in 2015.
This month, the Board of Education finally cleared the way for a chicken comeback, approving contracts with three new vendors — including powerhouse Perdue Farms — that more closely meet its criteria. As soon as May, students should see the return of chicken frankfurters, patties and tenders.
Food advocates say the nation’s second-largest school system led the way with standards for food suppliers.
“The district has done a good job and they have the commitment,” said Clare Fox, executive director of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, which advises and evaluates local institutions on food purchases.
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Photo: Diana Keuilian