image via penguin
Ok, admittedly Jamie is rather easy to love, what with his sort of mellow, punk rock approach to cooking and farming and well food in general… But it’s the school lunch thing that’s moved him (along with Pollen and Waters and Bittman) to my hero status -- You gotta idolize anyone who uses their celebrity to push forward the cause of improving school lunch.
Jamie first tackled school lunch in the UK through his show Jamie’s School Dinners to pretty great results:
“So Jamie took over school meals in Greenwich and tried to persuade the Government to improve standards. With dinner lady Nora Sands he showed that kids could be fed fresh, nutritious meals. And after a huge campaign, newspaper headlines and delivering a 300,000-signature petition, Tony Blair agreed to set new standards for school meals, and committed £280 million for proper ingredients, equipment and training.”
Now he’s headed to our neck of the woods (West Virginia specifically) to try and reform school lunch in the U.S. -- A challenge to say the least.
While I’m mildly encouraged by all the current information and activity around school lunch reform, we still have so far to go. Right now our children’s school cafeterias are essentially another fast food venue filled with HFCS laden, processed foods and their school hallways are yet another spot for soda and candy vending machines.
It's a bad scene friends.
There are all sorts of reasons school lunch has gotten so bad (school lunch talk, does a good job of summarizing here), and the root of the problem seems to be that cafeterias are incented based on the amount of food they sell, and as well all know kids love to buy junk food...
So while there’s an activist portion -- a piece of this school lunch juggernaut that requires us to take action, to be informed, to lobby and to make sure our leaders know that we want the current system to change, there’s also the piece that requires us as parents (or aunts and uncles, godparents…heck even friends) to introduce our kids to great food.
Maybe instead of taking the kiddos to McD’s for a “treat” you could make meal from scratch together… I’m a huge believer that the only way to get kids to shun such “delicacies” as frozen French fries and “French” toast sticks is to make sure they understand (and pardon my French here) what shit that kind of food is, no?