School Issues Apology For Serving Students Kangaroo Meat

The cook for the Nebraska school has since been fired

A kangaroo jumps across the 4th fairway during the World Super 6 in Perth, Australia.
Paul Kane / Getty Images

The cook for the Nebraska school has since been fired

Students at a junior-senior high school in western Nebraska’s Potter-Dix district were secretly served kangaroo meat last week, the Omaha-World Herald reported.

The marsupial meat was purchased by head cook Kevin Frei and was mixed into beef chili for students to unknowingly consume. Frei told district superintendent Mike Williams that he added the secret ingredient “because of its nutritional value and because it is a very lean meat,” according to a letter issued to parents on Wednesday that has also been posted to Facebook, and also provided Williams with nutritional information for the meat. Frei has since been let go as an employee of Potter-Dix Public Schools, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

The superintendent wrote in the letter that unusual food or ingredients of school meals “should be listed on the menu so that the students and families are aware of what they would be served,” and stated that school was not the place for people to be trying “exotic foods.”

Williams noted that in order for the meat to be sold, it must meet USDA standards and that he does not believe it is “unhealthy or dangerous.” According to the New York Post, Frei purchased the kangaroo from Sysco, the United States’ No. 1 distributor of food to school cafeterias.

He concluded the letter by apologizing “for the anxiety and any harm that this has caused individual students and/or families” and vowed such incidents would never happen again.

Mary Finnegan, a former president of the Nebraska School Nutrition Association, told the Omaha World-Herald that school cooks are encouraged to expose students to foods they wouldn’t normally eat, but noted that she wouldn’t have served the kangaroo meat to kids without their knowledge.

Though most people aren’t allergic to the meat, Finnegan noted that students with sensitive diets “would just feel safer not eating something that they have not been tested for.”

A mother of two teenage sons that attend the school told the Omaha World-Herald that both her children felt sick after eating last week’s mystery meal. She said her older son felt better the next day, but her younger son still felt sick over the weekend. She was not certain, however, that the chili was the cause for her one son’s extended illness.

Kangaroo meat is actually considered to be a healthy alternative to beef, is 98 percent fat-free, and high in protein and iron. While it is not a common food staple in the United States, the Australian Broadcasting Company reported that an ecologist last year urged Australians to “eat more of the red meat.”