CPS’s kosher meals: a triumph in religious freedom and flavor

By: Aaron Faier, Editor

From nondescript tin foil packaging emerged a school lunch rivaling few in flavor.

Requesting a Kosher Meal

In January 2022, I was able to have a school lunch in high school for the first time. As someone who keeps kosher, I always looked longingly at the school pizza my friends were eating, but I could never eat it with them (admittedly though, some meals to me looked best avoided). I always had to pack a lunch from home. Luckily, my family had the means to make this work, but if not, we would have been in a very tough situation. In November 2021, I sent an email to Chicago Public School’s nutrition support services. By the end of that month I had a link to a Google form where I could order meals. I was originally supposed to receive a meal when we came back from winter break, but this was disrupted due to the teacher walkout. 

What is kosher?

At this point you may be wondering why I needed to order a special meal. I am a religious Jew and therefore I keep kosher. In its most basic form, this means that I cannot eat meat and dairy products together at the same time, I can only eat meat from certain animals, and these animals have to be slaughtered according to religious law. This meal was provided by a caterer in the suburbs whose products are certified as kosher by the Chicago Rabbinical Council.

What was in the meal?

The meal I received was chicken lo mein, which consisted of noodles, stir-fried vegetables, and chicken. It was warmed up before I received it, which was a nice touch.

Most importantly, how did it taste?

The chicken lo mein was actually pretty tasty (especially considering that it’s American Chinese food from a Jewish caterer). I thought the chicken and vegetables were pretty flavorful, and the noodles tasted, well… like noodles (as they should). My one complaint was not with the food itself, but with the portioning. I thought it was on the small side, but I have noticed that the non kosher regular meals also tend to have smaller portions.


Last Notes

Overall, I am really glad that Chicago Public Schools provides quality meals for people with dietary restrictions. If you have another dietary restriction and would like a school lunch, I would recommend emailing food@cps.edu. If you keep kosher and would like a school lunch, click on this link and fill out the Google form. The entrees offered are: chicken lo mein, mac and cheese, salisbury steak, sweet and sour meatballs, and chicken schnitzel. All meals come with vegetables and a grain/starch. One of these entrees is selected randomly each day. Meals must be requested at least one week in advance.

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