Sen. Dick Durbin tours organic foodservice program at Niles West

The Illinois senator visits a school's program following its departure from the National School Lunch Program.

SKOKIE, IL— U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) stopped by Niles West High School last week to check-out the school’s organic-focused lunch program.

Two years ago, Niles North and Niles West High Schools traded in greasy burgers and pizza for a more health-focused menu after District 219 left the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and entered into a private contract with OrganicLife, a foodservice company that provides healthier, cooked-from-scratch meal options to Illinois schools.

Durbin toured the Niles West cafeteria Feb. 20 with District 219 Superintendent Nanciann Gatta and mayors George Van Dusen of Skokie and Dan DiMaria of Morton Grove.

During his brief visit, Durbin chatted with students about cafeteria food, physical education and college tuition costs.

Referring to a recent visit to a high school in Englewood on the south side of Chicago, where the only lunch options were corn-dogs, pizza and tater-tots, Durbin told student reporter Gabby Abesamis that many high school students still don’t have access to healthy food options during the school day.

It wasn’t long ago that District 219 students themselves were dining on a lunch menu of similar offerings like burgers cooked from frozen patties, clumpy nachos and french fries.

Since leaving the National School Lunch Program, District 219 now serves up food that is mostly cooked-from-scratch.