School lunches: Viva la revolutione!

April 7th, 2010  |  Published in Stumpblog  |  7 Comments

No doubt some of you have been following Jamie Oliver’s New Food Revolution. Oh, the horror, the horror. (Somewhat mitigated by the quasi-erotic thrill of dorky-adorable Jamie in a green pea costume.)

I lie awake nights thinking of the pink milk with sugared cereal that the little sunken-eyed, cutlery-less Dickens-workhouse-looking tots are munching. I weep for Britney and her crumbling liver. My hand itches to slap the pointy-headed bureaucrats who decided that French fries were a vegetable and pizza equals two bread servings (and that two white bread servings are somehow good — certainly better than that shite brown rice that that dumbshit know-nothing chef suggests! who the hell does he think he is anyway, all fancypants funny talking? we kicked ur ass in 1776 so you can’t tell us nothing! *high fives*).

Now, from deep in the trenches comes our embedded warrior educator/journalist Ms. Q, who keeps it real and documents the child abuse that comes in a plastic bag, box, and handy snakpak on her blog Fed Up With Lunch.


  1. Amy says:

    April 7th, 2010at 7:36 am(#)

    There’s an interesting forum post about the Jamie Oliver revolution:

    The poster claims to be the former director of food services for three K-12 school districts in California, having left “when it became abundantly clear to me that I, alone, could not make a difference.”

    He illustrates a combination of labor and financial resources as the root cause of the shame spiral into the lunches we see today from Ms.Q. The schools used to get ‘commodities’ (ie: real food) and cook the lunches from scratch. Now the commodities are sent to processors and delivered to schools as tater tots and chicken nuggets.

    What really floored me was the assertion that a seven-vegetable pasta dish that Jamie served up on the show would NOT qualify for reimbursement through the school lunch program because it wouldn’t meet the definition of a vegetable serving??!!?!!

  2. Simma says:

    April 7th, 2010at 9:26 am(#)

    I’ve always thought that having the UDSA (United States Department of Agriculture) oversee public nutritional guidelines (including the “food pyramid” and school lunches) seemed like the world’s best example of conflict of interest. Removing that sector of public health from the USDA’s responsibility would probably do more for public health in the U.S. than any other political action.

  3. Ambar says:

    April 7th, 2010at 11:46 am(#)

    Also check out for a similar view from the trenches (this a former school board member in California).

  4. KAW says:

    April 7th, 2010at 1:28 pm(#)

    With all due respect to Jamie Oliver (and really, I applaud what he is trying to do), his suggested 2-week menu may be *better* than the typical school fare in WV, but it’s still a far cry from what I would consider to be healthy. It’s loaded with cheese-and-grain based meals and sides: mac-n-cheese, nachos with cheese, cheesy cornbread, double-cheese pizza, etc. Even the vegetable sides are doctored up with cheese and honey (aka, sugar). In my admittedly small and unrepresentative experience — my son & his friends — kids love broccoli and carrots straight up, as long as they aren’t boiled within an inch of their lives. (The veggies, not the kids.)

  5. Olivia says:

    April 7th, 2010at 5:23 pm(#)

    I wonder if the “two bread servings” requirement comes not from a nutritional guideline, but more of a cheap way to fill up the kids’ bellies. I.e., the bulk of the calories are the cheapest to produce.

  6. Toby Wollin says:

    April 10th, 2010at 3:20 pm(#)

    The entire USDA guidelines/school lunch program is set up in a way that school districts really find it impossible except to feed the kids processed prepackaged junk. There is little money for personnel; little money for new equipment, no money for training. It’s awful. And when I speak to people about the ‘Food Revolution’ show, they always make the comments that ‘Well, that’s West Virginia’ and refuse to believe that THEIR school districts are serving the same crap. I pointed my son in front of one of the shows and asked him about what he saw – and he told me that in our school district, in Upstate New York, it was the same deal. We should also remember that the USDA’s role in this, as has been noted before, is really a conflict of interest, since they are the folks along with the FDA who promote the interests of people such as Monsanto, ConAgra, Archer Daniels Midland – Big Ag – which also produce many of the additives (such as high fructose corn syrup) put into this junk and many of the processed food items (ConAgra is king here)that are being fed to the kids. Recently, the Royal Economics Society in the UK came out with results of a study on 13000 kids – comparing the ones who had been on Jamie’s menus vs the ones who had not (and looking at the period before and after the whole transition). Not only did they find that there were academic advances (though with the poorest kids, not as much as they had hoped; they are looking at that), but more importantly, great reductions not only in behavioral issues in the classrooms but also in the use of inhalers among kids with asthma. Ding, Ding, Ding!!! Anyone hearing this?

  7. Kate Ussailis says:

    May 3rd, 2010at 2:27 pm(#)

    Just a random comment:
    I feel fortunate to have spent a couple of years at school in Nova Scotia, where the schools were all within walking distance, and we all walked home for lunch. The schools in that town don’t even have cafeterias.

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