I know I'm a little late posting on this topic, but last Friday was the series premier of "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" on ABC. And for the sake of those of you who saw it and don't need a recap, as well as those who didn't see it yet and don't care for spoilers, I'll make this post brief and to my own point.
While Oliver's overall goal is to correct the eating habits of the entire city of Huntington, West Virginia, he starts in the schools, with the school lunch program. And most of the two hours of this premier was dedicated to his experiences there. He struggled with the stubborn lunch ladies and was baffled by the children's lack of food intelligence, or even their access to real utensils, leaving them to a menu of frozen, highly processed, handheld foods on a daily basis.
The whole time I was watching this, I was thinking of how I ate as a child. During most of elementary and middle school, I brought my own lunch. It wasn't until high school that I started eating school lunch. And that was because of the bounty of junk foods available in our cafeteria. Aside from the school's pre-planned menu, we were sold a slew of a la carte foods. And that was where you went for the good stuff. Mornings before school brought monster sized chocolate chip cookies and Rice Krispy treats to the cafeteria. An enterprising a la carte stand in the lunchroom sold corndogs, mini-pizzas, chips, candy, etc. I believe that their excuse for selling us junk is that by high school age, one should be able to discern what is good for his or her body. That's just my assumption, though.
I really began to wonder, after watching that show and recalling my personal school lunch missteps, exactly who is responsible for the healthy eating habits of kids. Is it the parents? The school? A celebrity chef with his own reality show? At what age does the child become responsible for his or her diet?
For more school lunch insight (and great photos of school lunches), check out the blog Fed Up With Lunch, in which a school teacher has vowed to eat school lunch for the entire year of 2010 and documents the experience. You'll see some of the same issues as presented in "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution," such as everything being prepackaged and frozen, minimal utensils being handed out to kids, and the disgusting interpretations of what passes for fruits and vegetables.