Chicken wings
Representation. Fried chicken wings. LAWJR/Pixabay


  • The former food services head of a Chicago school district stole $1.5M worth of food
  • She has been charged with two felonies and held at jail in a $150,000 bond
  • The alleged theft occurred between July 2020 to February of last year

An official of the Harvey School District 152 in Chicago, Illinois, has been accused of stealing $1.5 million worth of food - mostly chicken wings - for nearly two years, court documents showed.

Cook County prosecutors charged Vera Liddell, the former director of food services at the school district, with felonies continuing financial crimes enterprise and theft exceeding $1,000,000, NBC Chicago reported, citing a proffer filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

Liddell, 66, placed hundreds of unauthorized orders for food items with Gordon Food Services, the district's main supplier, from July 2020 to February 2022, prosecutors alleged.

The food, which included more than 11,000 cases of chicken wings, was ordered during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Associated Press reported.

Students were being educated remotely and not allowed to attend class in school buildings at the time.

Despite this, Harvey School District 152 still provided meals for pickup, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office said, according to a CBS News report.

More than 80% of the 1,600 students attending the district's five schools reportedly qualify as low-income.

While district funds were used to pay for the food, none of it was taken to the district or provided to students, prosecutors claimed.

Harvey School District 152's business manager discovered during an audit in January last year that the food service department had exceeded its annual budget by $300,000 halfway through the school year, court documents showed.

The same manager then found invoices signed by Liddell for "massive quantities" of chicken wings, which have never been served to students because they contained bones, prosecutors said.

Surveillance video showed that Liddell would arrive at the Gordon Food Services facility to pick up the food, sign an electronic keypad acknowledging she received the chicken wings and bill the school district for the items, according to the proffer.

Liddell would then allegedly leave the ordered food in one of the school district's cargo vans without bringing the items to school buildings. What happened to the food items afterward was not clear.

In a statement issued Monday, Harvey School District 152's interim superintendent Lela Bridges explained that the district could not comment this time due to an ongoing investigation.

"However, we are fully cooperating with the authorities regarding the matter," she noted.

The AP was unable to determine Monday if Liddell had an attorney.

She was held in the Cook County Jail on a $150,000 bond, WGN Channel 9 reported the same day.

The United States has reported 102,171,644 COVID-19 cases and 1,103,615 virus-related deaths thus far, according to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A police car
Representation. A police car RayMediaGroup/Pixabay