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Suburban School Worker Accused of Stealing $1.5 Million in Chicken Wings

That could make for a large Super Bowl party

Buffalo Wings
The Bills aren’t playing in the Super Bowl, but at least Buffalo’s wings will have a presence.
Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

During the 2022 Super Bowl, experts estimated that Americans ate 1.42 billion chicken wings. Keep that in mind with the big game approaching, as a food service director at a suburban Chicago school district has been arrested and accused of stealing $1.5 million in food, mostly chicken wings.

Harvey School District 152 is about 30 minutes south of Downtown Chicago. School administrator Vera Liddell has been charged with theft. WGN TV reports Liddell allegedly ordered 1,600 cases of wings between July 2020 and February 2022, during the height of the pandemic, with the wings whisked away from the schools’ food provider in a district cargo van. School officials reportedly grew suspicious when they started to look at expenses: the district was $300,000 over budget for food expenditures, even though it was only halfway through the school year.

Liddell remains jailed on a $150,000 bond, according to reports. However, Liddell’s name didn’t pop up on the Cook County sheriff’s website, suggesting she had posted bond.

Chicken wing prices have famously fluctuated in recent years. In mid-2021, the Wingstop chain even tried to joke about its increased expenses with an ad campaign that pushed chicken thighs. So how many chicken wings went missing? New York Magazine attempted to answer that question, guessing the quantity to be between 3.125 million and 5.78 million in unaccounted wings.

Chicago really likes its wings; it’s where the lollipop wing was invented, one of the best pieces of fried chicken in America.

Correction, 6:26 p.m., Wednesday, February 1: A previous version of this story stated that the number of chicken wings consumed 1.42 million wings during the 2022 Super Bowl. It was actually 1.42 billion.