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Jamie Oliver to propose three weeks of school menus to LAUSD

February 4, 2011 |  5:18 pm

Jamie There may have been a little movement in the standoff between L.A. Unified and Jamie Oliver, the British chef who has been angling to get into the school district's cafeterias.

Oliver wants to film parts of his "Food Revolution" reality television series in the schools and so far has been kept out of them.

In a memo Friday, the district's director of food services, Dennis Barrett, asked Oliver to propose three weeks of menus –- following federal and local regulations and costing no more than 77 cents a serving. That's how much the district says it has to spend on food, taking into account all the other costs of providing meals at nearly 1,000 sites. The memo doesn't promise access to the cafeterias in return.

"For me, that feels like an amazing move forward," Oliver said Friday afternoon.

He said he will use what he's learned since he arrived in Los Angeles a month ago in talking to students and parents to come up with meal ideas.

"Absolutely. I feel inspired and prepared to do it," he said.

Oliver, who has been working with culinary students at West Adams Prep near downtown, also said he's building a pop-up kitchen near that school and is looking for a place for a permanent teaching kitchen in that neighborhood.

He has said he plans for five kitchens around L.A., including one near UCLA.

Oliver has repeatedly said that his plans are not just about reality television, that he wants to help reduce childhood obesity and help people eat better; on Friday he called that goal "my life's work."

LAUSD has declined Oliver's request to film in its kitchens and it has suspended all filming of reality shows in the schools. If Oliver wants to make a difference, spokesman Robert Alaniz said, he could volunteer his services without the cameras.

On another front, the Claremont school district said it could not come to a contract agreement to take part in a student chef challenge that is to be part of the show. Rick Cota, the director of nutrition services, said he was disappointed but they could not agree on what students and officials could disclose about their experience.

Oliver is filming the second season of his show in Los Angeles; the first took place in Huntington, W.Va.

 -- Mary MacVean

Photo: Jamie Oliver. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

 

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