Last week, we reported on the long rap sheet held by Aramark, the private food vendor contracted at the insistence of GOP lawmakers for Michigan prisons in a transaction last year that displaced hundreds of workers. Among the offenses found in prisons, schools, and entertainment venues across the nation were food skimping, unapproved substitutions, improper contact with inmates, drug use, drug distribution, smuggling contraband, embezzlement charges, questionably obtained contracts, numerous OSHA and NLRB violations, bilking employees out of tips, and unsanitary conditions leading to a deadly outbreak.
They don’t limit their shenanigans to prisons though. Aramark provides food services in many large public school systems, colleges and universities.
An Aramark director of food services in the Burlington Area Schools, near Madison Wisconsin, was recently collared for pocketing $14,000 of kids’ lunch money at three different schools. In 2012, New Orleans Health Department records found numerous critical violations in local schools, including the presence of rat feces.
One of their larger customers, Chicago Public Schools, awarded them a contract after the previous vendor was having trouble getting kids to eat their fare — because it was too healthful. Food provider Chartwells-Thompson couldn’t get the kids to eat their broccoli.
Enter Aramark and their coveted chicken patty sandwich — now the number one menu item in CPS. It seems Windy City kids can’t get enough of them. But, what’s in these magic patties?
Chicago radio station WBEZ recently asked that very question. A few weeks ago they filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the school district hoping to get some answers on what’s really in the food. This isn’t the first time reporter Monica Eng has probed into CPS lunches — she made a similar request of the previous vendor to learn that their chicken patties contained numerous incomprehensible ingredients.
Here is what was reported this week by CPS:
Yep, the secret ingredient to their chicken patty is — a chicken patty. Ditto, their chicken nuggets. Eng, of WBEZ, put it this way:
“When I last did a story on popular CPS lunch items for the Chicago Tribune in 2011, the district’s spicy chicken patty contained dozens of ingredients, many too hard to pronounce. But, miraculously, CPS and its new caterer Aramark have pared the district’s number one food item down to just two ingredients: a chicken patty and a bun, according to the district’s response.”
Sure, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but their claim of culinary simplicity is somewhat suspect here. One can’t help but wonder what choice artisanal ingredients lend the patty its distinct flavor profile rendering it irresistible to the refined palettes of CPS students.
Maybe if we grease the palm of the right Aramark employee we can get their special recipe.
Read a full media report on Aramark here.