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If your child’s school serves chicken nuggets for lunch, you probably think she’s eating some sort of breaded chicken.

Not the healthiest meal out there, but hey, at least the kid’s getting a little protein to help her through afternoon lessons.

Hah. How silly of you to presume that the school’s chicken nuggets are made of actual chicken.

In Chicago, school “chicken nuggets” are made of…deep breath…textured soy protein concentrate, isolated soy protein, brown sugar, salt, onion powder, maltodextrin, silicon dioxide, citric acid, potassium chloride, sodium phosphates, a dozen or so other ingredients and a very little bit of chicken.

Those aren’t exactly top-grade ingredients, so it’s no surprise that it took a public radio reporter in Chicago filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the attorney general’s office to get the list. For the record, reporters typically use FOIA for information on covert government operations, not chicken nugget recipes.


Lazy students everywhere would be proud of the district’s initial reply to the query: Chicken nuggets, it said, contain “chicken nuggets.”

But the reporter, like any good teacher, pushed back and, with a little prodding and cajoling, got a list of more than 20 ingredients that is now grossing out parents everywhere.

A spokesman for Chicago Public Schools told Fusion, "All food items we serve are well within state and federal guidelines for school lunches," but declined to comment further.


It might be unreasonable to ask cash-strapped schools to shell out for locally grown, organic nuggets. But is it too much to ask that kids not be fed something that literally contains sand (see silicon dioxide above) as a filler?

Anyway, enjoy your lunch!

Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.