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Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver, Reforms School Lunches and School Lunch Programs
Jamie Oliver, tireless crusader for eating fresh, cooking fresh, and raising the "healthiness" bar for our nation's population, along with our cooking standards, takes on Public School Lunch Programs. Chef Jamie, sometimes profane, but always passionate in his views, has long been known for his "pay-it-forward" style of teaching people to cook. He is appalled by the high fat, high sodium, over-processed food substitutes that make up much of the public school hot lunch menus. Fresh, healthy foods are almost nonexistent on most school lunch menus, while high calorie, high fat snacks, sweets and soft drink choices abound.
In his quest to improve the health of a nation, Chef Oliver has gone into schools to see first-hand what is being served, and to explore methods of changing these practices.
This contains clips from the above video, along with interviews examining the implications for our kids - do give it a watch!
On the one hand, we should be grateful that so many schools do offer a hot lunch program for our children. So many kids get themselves off to school, and arrivel with no lunch, or a lunch box full of junk food.
Those children who depend on the hot lunch programs for their noon meal are more fortunate than those children who must do without.
Or are they?
The lunches that were offered consisted, for the most part, of highly processed foods: chicken nuggets, fries, fish sticks, burger on a white bread bun, and the like. The local councils were told that the children wouldn't eat anything else.
The lunches, though hot, were certainly not nutritious. In fact, when the foods were tested by food nutritionists, they were found to quite high in fat, sodium, and highly refined carbohydrates, and to contain no Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Folic Acid, or any of the other building blocks necessary for growing children.
How are children to be expected to learn or remember anything when they are being fed meals with little or no nutrient value.
One of the other chronic ills was that many schools had food-vending machines - machines that were stuffed with chips, pop, candy bars, and every other kind of sugary or salty snack. A recipe for disaster if there ever was one.
What parent in their right mind would fill their child full of sugar and then expect them to sit still - let alone to pay attention and learn something.
Enter Jamie Oliver - determined to make a difference for the better.
His contention that fresh, healthy food is best for everyone is not new. What is new and different are the lengths to which this "food crusader" will go to get his message across.
One such crusade was his pay-it-forward campaign, in which he taught regular people with no particular cooking skills how to cook a dish on the proviso that they would teach it to someone else, who would then teach it to one of their friends, and so on, and so on...
The real trick with changing the menu in the school hot lunch programs, would not just involve the councils and politicians who controlled the purse strings, it would first involve changing the parents and the children, so that they would actually eat, enjoy, and demand, healthy food made from fresh, healthy ingredients.
- Jamie Oliver | Official site for recipes, books
Jamie Oliver's official site with loads of recipes and Jamie's his latest books including Jamie's America, Ministry of Food, Jamie at Home and Naked Chef.
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Download or subscribe to free podcast episodes from Jamie's Ministry of Food Recipes by Jamie Oliver on iTunes.
- Ministry of Food - Home
Jamie Oliver Welcome to the home of my Ministry of Food online. I want to inspire you to get in the kitchen and cook meals for yourself and your family from
Chicken Nuggets Experiment
School Lunches - Part 2
One of my favorite parts of the program, is the scene in which Chef Jamie shows a room full of children what actually goes into the processed chicken nuggets they had enjoyed. Most of the children were revolted, not as much by the ingredients as by the disgusting mess of mush - a very clear case of "what you don't know can hurt you".
The real payoff came when he offered them real, cooked, unprocessed chicken legs which they had formerly declined in favor of the processed chicken. The change in attitude once they sampled the unprocessed food was quite apparent.
Another great tactic he used to get the kids "on board" was to get them involved with actually preparing the food. Once the children had a hands-on experience, they were much more willing to try new foods and taste things they wouldn't have even looked at prior to this experience.
Several families were chosen as test cases, to have their children go "sweeties free" for a two week period. Their children were good kids, just loud, rowdy, and inclined to ignore their parents, indulging in loud, rough play with their siblings and friends.
At the end of the two weeks, the parents were asked if they had noticed any changes. Almost all reported better behavior, less rowdiness, more calm and "paying attention". The parents were so thrilled with the behavioral changes that eventually the junk food-stocked vending machines were removed from the schools completely.
It takes a great deal of drive to create change, but Chef Oliver's simple, down-to-earth approach to making things happen also makes it so clear that the change is desperately needed, that we are left wondering why on earth we didn't see this before.
Now that we have seen the need, how can we not respond. Action is required to protect our children from our "time-saving, and cost effective" measures, and ensure we give them real, fresh, healthful foods to eat.
We are charged with raising the next generation of leaders. We need to ensure we give our children the best possible chance we can, starting with good nutrition at home and in the school hot lunch programs.
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