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Celebrity Rachael Ray Creates Recipe for Chicago Student Lunches

Article / Review by on November 3, 2011 – 6:28 pmNo Comments

Celebrity Rachael Ray Creates Recipe for Chicago Student Lunches

One of USDA’s most important missions is providing healthy meals to school lunch programs across the country.  In a unique partnership, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) agencies teamed up with Rachael Ray’s Yum-o! non-profit organization, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system and Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality to create and serve a new healthy, tasty and exciting school lunch recipe.

To do this, Bob Bloomer of Chartwells-Thompson, the provider of meals in most of Chicago’s schools, worked with the Agricultural Marketing Service to acquire fresh, unprocessed chicken. After issuing a solicitation and competitive bids from domestic suppliers, the Agricultural Marketing Service awarded the first contract for two truckloads—that’s 80,000 pounds —of raw chicken leg quarters for shipment to Chicago’s schools.

 Savory chicken, sweet and spicy baked beans, and glazed carrots were part of the new recipe served to students in Chicago schools.

Savory chicken, sweet and spicy baked beans, and glazed carrots were part of the new recipe served to students in Chicago schools.

Next the Midwest Food and Nutrition Staff worked with Rachael Ray ’s Yum-o! non-profit to create a healthy, tasty meal. “I had so much fun creating this recipe with Chicago Public Schools,” said Ray. “I tried to create a recipe that would capture the cultural diversity of Chicago and most importantly, that the kids would love to eat.”

The result: Windy City Chicken — a savory meal of chicken, sweet and spicy baked beans, brown rice and orange-glazed carrots. Prepared by food service staff, the new menu itesm were served to thrilled Second City students in more than 450 schools as part of National School Lunch Week on October 13th.  NBC-Chicago, which covered the event, captured the reaction of a number of children who raved about the meal. “It tastes like heaven,” said one student.

Students enjoyed the new lunch menu items made possible by a unique collaboration USDA agencies, a celebrity chef, and the Chicago Schools system.Students enjoyed the new lunch menu items made possible by a unique collaboration USDA agencies, a celebrity chef, and the Chicago Schools system.

October was National Farm to School Month, which promotes locally-sourced foods in school meal programs, so the menu also featured locally grown food. Chicago Public Schools, through its primary food provider, Chartwells-Thompson, has the largest farm to school program in the Midwest, with more than $2.5 million in fruits and vegetables purchased from regional growers and producers. The carrots used for the special menu are one of the items in CPS’s well-known frozen local program. They were grown within 250 miles of the city, picked at their peak ripeness and flash frozen to preserve their fresh-tasting flavor—and nutrients.

The special menu entrée will be served again in the future. In fact, the Agricultural Marketing Service has already awarded additional contracts for more of the chicken.

About United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Mission Statement 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management.


The USDA want to be recognized as a dynamic organization that is able to efficiently provide the integrated program delivery needed to lead a rapidly evolving food and agriculture system.

Strategic Plan Framework 

USDA has created a strategic plan to implement its vision. The framework of this plan depends on these key activities: expanding markets for agricultural products and support international economic development, further developing alternative markets for agricultural products and activities, providing financing needed to help expand job opportunities and improve housing, utilities and infrastructure in rural America, enhancing food safety by taking steps to reduce the prevalence of foodborne hazards from farm to table, improving nutrition and health by providing food assistance and nutrition education and promotion, and managing and protecting America’s public and private lands working cooperatively with other levels of government and the private sector.

USDA Celebrates 150 Years

In 2012, USDA will commemorate and celebrate the 150th anniversary of our founding in 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act of Congress establishing the United States Department of Agriculture.

Two and one-half years later, in what would be his final annual message to the Congress, Lincoln called USDA “The People’s Department.” At that time, about half of all Americans lived on farms, compared with about 2 percent today. But through our work on food, agriculture, economic development, science, natural resource conservation and a host of issues, USDA still fulfills Lincoln’s vision – touching the lives of every American, every day.

“As we commemorate 150 years of accomplishments, USDA is learning from past experiences and looking to the future. In the years to come, we must help address the changing needs of agriculture and rural America. We must continue to help provide a safe, ample food supply for our nation and the world. To meet those goals, we are working to make USDA a more modern and effective service provider and to deliver the best possible results for all of the American people.”


*  The above story is adapted from materials provided by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

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