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Jamie Oliver to propose three weeks of school menus to LAUSD

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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It's interesting how regulatory the school districts are. Seems out-of-place for, well, schools.

According to Oliver at Ted.com, he learned that the last three generations of folks in Huntington were not taught to cook at home. He revealed the children he visited in West Virgina schools couldn't even name fresh produce, from beets to potatoes, because they are not exposed to these foods at home or school: http://wp.me/p13mpW-7P

LA schools may be frightened to learn this is true in their schools too.

I do not understand Robert Alaniz's stand on this. Jamie Oliver is offering his services for free. So what if it is in exchange for bring cameras and publicity to a good cause? Even for a profit? It only benefits the children, parents and the schools after all. Just in the same way LACES benefited from a free upgrade to the campus in another reality show. If LAUSD is low in funds and has a lack of resources, Robert Alaniz's stand is just short-sighted and counter-productive. One cannot help but wonder if he has anything to hide. Perhaps Robert Alaniz and the people currently running food services in LAUSD are not the right people for the job.


Let’s make it very clear. Legitimate news cameras and journalists are invited anytime into LAUSD’s food service areas and kitchens and many have taken up that offer. The ban the LAUSD imposed is on reality television cameras. Too much drama and too much conflict. Remember Jamie Oliver is a reality TV star and not an investigative reporter for 20/20, Dateline or 60 Minutes. There is a BIG difference.

The problem is there is little fresh food offered. The processed, frozen food is pre-packaged and ready for microwave heating or deep fat frying when it's trucked in. There is NO fresh prep of fruits and veg. only pre-packaged processed items the workers open, heat and serve.

But even with the processed food cafeteria rolling at full speed, the kids have very little time to eat it. The lines are so long that by the time they get their food, they have just a few minutes to eat before the bell rings.

But that is merely one of many issues that don't work for the kids because it was designed to suit the staff.

Thanks for writing.
Just to clarify: That 77 cents is the cost of food. It doesn't take into account any of the other costs: labor, equipment, utilities, etc.

The school board nor any other government run entity is NOT interested in saving money or healthy eating. If they really want something done, they would take fast action and get it done.

Wow what a surprise. LAUSD not allowing cameras in the school. And the reason would be for what??? Not wanting the parents and public seeing the horrible food that is being served to the students that offer no nutritional value? Or wait... maybe because they don't want the parents and public to see how much of the horrible food with no nutritional value is being wasted daily. The school system is in desperate need of an overhaul. Why not let others help. The school board and all the stuffed suits running it has failed. I see that same thing here in my daughters school in San Bernardino County.

Good luck Jamie. I hope you can make a difference.

I want healthy options for my children who attend LAUSD. For elementary we pay $1 for lunch so why is Jamie being shorted before starting. Also, until last week parents at our school were banned from being near the eating area at our school. Parents had to fight hard to get this changed. My child got punished for running on the playground at recess. LAUSD does not care about health and things only happen when people have to fight tooth and nail for it. Some of our teachers do not have PE as well . Help us!

Cameras = accountability. They surely don't want that. I applaud him and wish him all the luck, love what he's doing.


Please don't give up.
Show this hard heads, the benefits from a healthier population with lower medical needs, will offset and even improve the financial budgets on the big picture. Could be some companies will loose business, but the business will be there, is just a shift to other companies.
Ask Michel O, the First Lady for her help and influence. She is working in this direction, too.
This kids shall not be feed like on the Plantations, when brute force was necessary, and therefore High Caloric Food was not as damaging as in the present. Today the highly refined sugars in food and lower activity is requiring another type of diet.


I wish him lots of luck. He may be fighting a losing battle. I admire his persistence.

77¢ per serving is the total cost for school lunches? Seems a bit hard to believe. I wonder how much they charge the students for these 77¢ lunches.

Jaime Oliver is right! We want our children to eat right and therefore be healthy regardless of the cost. How dare anyone think poor food to save money is correct!


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