Administrators said the fruits, vegetables and herbs grown by students, teachers and volunteers at the 40 school gardens can't be served in cafeterias because they do not meet the rules set by the school district and its meal provider, Chartwells-Thompson, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.
"In order to use food in the school food program, it would need to meet specific/certified growing practices," school district spokeswoman Monique Bond said.
Chartwells-Thompson said the regulations include the elimination of "pesticides and insecticide" and the use of only "commercially prepared organic compost and fertilizers."
Officials said the produce will be sold or given away.
However, Kathleen Merrigan, U.S. deputy secretary of agriculture, who recently visited a Chicago School Garden, said she would like to see the resulting foods find their way into cafeterias.
"Ideally, all of those products would make it from the garden to the lunchroom," Merrigan said.