L.A. Schools Snub Jamie Oliver & His 'Food Revolution'

Kim Conte

jamie oliverJamie Oliver wants to bring his famous school lunch Food Revolution to the Los Angeles Unified School District. But L.A. school district officials say: Not so fast!

The school district thanked Oliver for his interest in making its school food healthier but ultimately rejected his offer to help, saying it had everything under control.

Why in the world would anyone turn Jamie Oliver down?

Here are some reasons the district gave in its rejection letter to the Naked Chef:

While we appreciate your interest in our school meal program, we believe our direct work with nutrition experts, health advocates, the community, schools, and students is the most effective strategy for our continued success and improvement.

In other words, what the district is saying is: "We've got it, thanks." They cite the school board's 2004 ban on the sale of soda, as well as its votes to ban the sale of junk food and reform the nutritional value of meals as adequate measures to promote healthy food in schools.

The district also used the ol' "We don't have enough time" excuse:

... participation in the 'Food Revolution' program would prevent us from committing 100% of our efforts to our students.

The district has already been forced to shorten the school year and require roughly 40 furlough days a year -- so maybe it has a point there. Reworking its school lunch to be healthier would take up a lot of time.

Finally, it nicely suggested that the Food Revolution would perhaps better serve someone or something else.

Our feeling was that his time would be better spent or invested in other communities.

In fact, the school district went so far as to suggest Oliver work instead to improve the fresh food solution in food deserts. Which would be a great suggestion were it not for the fact that the whole concept of the show is school lunch ...

The first season of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution brought a lot of negative attention to "America's fattest city" -- Huntington, West Virginia. The show won an Emmy Award and the residents of the city appeared to learn how to improve their diet.

Yet, there was no evidence proving that the citizens are now healthier thanks to Oliver's work there. Moreover, many people in Huntington -- government officials, school officials, school employees, parents, lunch ladies -- were embarrassed and angered about all the publicity their town received for being so unhealthy.

Viewed through that lens, perhaps there's more to this L.A. rejection letter than meets the eye.

Do you think the L.A. school district should have welcomed Jamie Oliver? Or do you agree with its decision?


Image via Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution


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