The Urban School Food Alliance (The Alliance), a coalition of the largest school districts in the U.S. that includes New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas and Orlando, announced today an antibiotic-free standard for companies to follow when supplying chicken products to its schools.
Serving nearly 2.9 million students daily, Alliance members procure more than $550 million in food and supplies annually. The coalition aims to use its joint purchasing power and influence to help drive down nationwide costs, while setting higher standards for the quality of food served in its schools.
The Alliance’s latest action focuses on chicken because it is one of the most popular items served at cafeterias across the country.
"The standards we're asking from the manufacturers go above and beyond the quality of the chicken we normally purchase at local supermarkets," said Urban School Food Alliance Chairman Eric Goldstein and chief executive officer of school support services for the New York City Department of Education. "This move by the Alliance shows that school food directors across the country truly care about the health and wellness of students."
Working with suppliers, non-profit partners and government agencies, the Alliance has committed to the following standard:
The Alliance will require that all chicken products must be produced under a USDA Process Verified Program that includes compliance with the following:
1. No animal by-products in the feed
2. Raised on an all-vegetarian diet
3. Humanely raised as outlined in the National Chicken Council Animal Welfare Guidelines
4. No antibiotics ever
If a food company cannot supply the full volume of "No Antibiotics Ever" chicken during procurement, a written plan as to when the supplier will meet the above standard will be required. In the meantime, the supplier must have the capacity for USDA Process Verified (third party) for Therapeutic Use Only chicken as defined in the Natural Resources Defense Council's "Support For Antibiotic Stewardship in Poultry Production" dated December 2013; Or School Food FOCUS /The PEW Charitable Trusts "Purchasing Guidelines That Minimize the Use of Antibiotics in Poultry Production" dated September 2014.
The Urban School Food Alliance formed nearly two years ago to use its purchasing power to continue to drive quality up and costs down while incorporating sound environmental practices.