Saturday, March 27, 2010

Something to Take Seriously

Last night, I watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on ABC. I was struck by the passion that Jamie brought to this project and angry at the opposition that he faced from the school's kitchen staff and administration.

Having worked in three school systems in 33 years, I understand his frustration with the food that is being served to school children throughout the country. When I started teaching, the meals were made from scratch, and for the most part, they were good and nutritious. The cooks pared piles of potatoes, baked their own bread and pastries and cared about the students as if they were their own children: they had a connection and a pride in the food they served every day. Of course, the government provided commodities, but these products were not the entrees, but merely a starting point for these talented ladies.

Then, in the mid-90s things changed drastically. The types of commodities the school received were prepared entrees which the cooks heated and served to the students - entrees like chicken nuggets, beef sticks, sheet cakes, cookies (yes, even peanut butter sandwiches!). The kitchen staff lost the personal connection with the students and staff.

I was shocked that the first-grade students in the Food Revolution episode did not know the names of the most basic vegetables, i.e. potatoes, tomatoes, beets, etc. Even the teacher was surprised at her students' lack of knowledge and took it upon herself to change that situation.

Later, I shook my head in disbelief that the kitchen staff and principal did not want to give the children table knives and even more astonished when the children did not know how to even use the utensil.

Yes, change is hard to accept, but the kitchen staff, principal, superintendent, and food-service coordinator did everything in their power to derail this worthwhile project. Some of these adults even bullied Jamie in front of the children.

Politicians, physicians, the media, and the general public are quick to throw the word "obesity" around like the children are making themselves that way. However, it is the adults who are making most of the decisions for the eating habits of the children. Even the government is contributing to the problem by supplying processed food to school districts. The politicians need to look at the source of the food that a majority of children eat each day. I know that commodities are important to schools because they allow the districts to feed children. Sometimes the school lunch is the child's only meal of the day, but we need to consider the message those meals are giving to the children.

Simply put, children learn what they live. At school they are living with processed food that is simply heated, and they go home and eat more processed food. It is time to make some changes in the way we feed our children at school and at home.

You can watch the first two episodes of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on Hulu.

After you watch the show, tell me what you think. Do you think other communities should join this Food Revolution?

6 comments:

  1. Yes, I totally agree. My mom cooked for the school system for a time when I was little, and it was all home made food. I am shocked even in our hospital cafeteria, the food is so processed and full of lard and sugar...yuck! Thank you for this.

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  2. I'm going to try to watch this tomorrow. We have concerns about school lunches, my husband especially. Sounds interesting. Thanks, Nancy!

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  3. We always looked forward to our school's homemade rolls. They were the best--made from scratch every day.

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  4. I worked for 4 months in a school cafeteria.....I was so upset by what was being served day after day and seeing how much was not being eaten. Because it didn't taste good!

    After watching the show, I vented to DH about how it is more important to the government to waste $137 million on advertising for the Census than it is to spend $1 on our child's schools--books, good food, etc. And the knife and fork issue really got to me. These are simple skills these babies need to learn at home! Everyone needs to watch this and then take the time to make the changes they need to make before it's too late.

    Great post Nancy.

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