By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook
What happened to chicken nuggets?
They've been replaced by real chicken on the bone. These chicken pieces arrive frozen, then they're roasted in a convection oven. I've tried them, and they're pretty good. The kids also like them. In this case, according to the Chartwell's website, they come "Caribbean jerk seasoned."
A couple of otherwise things on this tray are noteworthy. The broccoli, for instance, is "local," meaning purchases from growers here in the Mid-Atlantic region. And the kitchen seems to be making a more concerted effort not to obliterate the broccoli in the cooking process. I can't vouch for all of the kitchens in all of the District of Columbia's schools, but at least our lunch ladies are taking some care around the vegetables.
Secondly, that brown rice you see in the "bayou rice and beans" is what passes for "brown rice." There's a big push to serve more "whole grains" in the federally-subsidized school meals program. Brown rice happens to be the only grain that's available to schools through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's commodity foods program. Everything else is processed, as in that dinner roll in the photo.
And boy, were the bananas ever green.