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Is Jamie Oliver's 'Food Revolution' behind LAUSD menu changes?

Jamie During the Season 2 premiere of "Food Revolution" Tuesday night, British chef and healthy eating advocate Jamie Oliver gave the thumbs-down to Los Angeles Unified School District lunch items such as sugar-laden brownies, pastries and chocolate milk and carb-filled pizza.

On Wednesday, the LAUSD fired back with a revamped menu that officials won't attribute to Oliver's pressure but instead said has been in the works for some time. Among the new entrees, beginning next school year, will be Salvadorean beef stew, chicken tandoori, Asian pad thai, California sushi roll and teriyaki beef and broccoli with brown rice.

Oliver, who's on a crusade to help obese Americans lighten their loads, was locked out of Los Angeles' schools, though he'd planned to base the new season of his Emmy-winning ABC show in its lunch rooms. The tirelessly chipper chef gave himself some credit on Wednesday for LAUSD's menu changes, while still prodding officials to go further.

"Good news that the 'Food Revolution' has people talking about what Los Angeles schools are feeding our kids," Oliver said in a statement. "Wouldn't it be great if we could find out what the kids are actually eating; where the food comes from; what's on the ingredients' lists; and who is really doing the cooking."

From a viewer perspective, Tuesday night audiences treated "Food Revolution" a little like a plate of plain broccoli. The show drew 5.3 million viewers, a 36% drop from its first season premiere.

"Food Revolution" has been shooting in L.A., but because it's been denied access to LAUSD it's fanning out to cover a wider swath of the city and its eating habits. Oliver also set up a kitchen in Westwood where he asked parents to bring in examples of LAUSD's cuisine, which he examined in the debut episode and likened to "airplane food."

LAUSD, the second-largest school district in the country, serves 122 million meals a year. Officials organized a media tour on Wednesday of its central kitchen, with samples of its food.

Oliver said he hoped that event "is a signal that LAUSD is willing to work with concerned parents and local activists to make the system truly transparent."

As for being shut out of the local schools, Oliver said, "Our dialogue with LAUSD is ongoing and I'm optimistic that they will be able to implement real changes that have a long-lasting impact for L.A. kids."

There's apparently no change in his persona non grata status, at least as far as filming at LAUSD schools or officially reworking its cafeterias. Officials had offered to consult with Oliver and hear his ideas, without cameras and reality show producers.

But, obviously, that's not a TV show.

LAUSD's refusal to allow Oliver into its system, including scenes of the chef getting kicked off school property, is woven into the second season.


With or without LAUSD, 'Food Revolution' returns

'Food Revolution' recap: Season 2 gets underway

 -- T.L. Stanley

Photo: Jamie Oliver at the California School Nutrition Assn. in January. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (39)

I agree Oliver, It always starts at homes and school. Teach them to eat the correct foods and be healthy. This is how you learned to eat the correct foods right?http://youtu.be/pk5XPNx7rIw

Jamie thank you for doing something about how our kids eat a school. My son had alot of problems at school. As soon as I started giving him healthy lunchs to take to school his behavior changed. The school even asked me what I was feeding him. I wish you were around when my boys were in school. Thank you so much for all you go through for our kids.

Jamie Oliver is right in what should be happening; he should be allowed into the LAUSD central kitchen to learn exactly what is being put into the food. Unfortunately, good nutritious food costs a fortune to supply millions of students each day. Perhaps the L.A. viewing audience will react to the demonstration Jamie did about the sugar content of just five days of food - poured into a large school bus to way overflowing. We're talking huge truckloads of sugar!

this is the best thing ever, but is it tv friendly, not sure. I enjoyed it though. seems like 5.3 million viewers is half of l.a., so perhaps.

good on ya, Mr. Oliver. fight the power!

@Mr De Salvio

"Unfortunately, good nutritious food costs a fortune to supply millions of students each day." The whole point of Mr. Oliver is making is that good, nutritious food costs no more than the rubbish they get now. In fact while filming his debut UK series he lowered the unit cost of a school meal, while making it fresher, tastier and healthier.

LAUSD, like many bureaucracies that dole government contracts, is prone to corruption. LAUSD lunches are bought through contracts with lunch vendors. That's big business. And if a food company needs to contribute money to campaigns and grease a few palms, then they will make their profits by substituting food for sugar and sugar related products. The sad thing is that most parents are either too busy or is removed from the process of feeding their kids during school hours. It's no wonder LAUSD will not allow Jamie into their kitchens. To do so, LAUSD would have to ask food vendors to open their companies, which could lead to further analysis of an unhealthy relationship between bureaucrats and the vendors that feed la kids.

I go to an LAUSD school & the food is absolutely terrible. I refuse to even be near it. I really hope Oliver continues trying to better the food in the LAUSD system. Most days I don't bring a lunch, not enough time to pack it, and end up not eating until I get home.

I did watch the program and was disgusted by LAUSD's behavior!! LAUSD what have you got to hide? You will sell your teachers out with their "evaluations" for public display yet, you are not willing to be publicly evaluated?! Surely the suggestions for changes from an expert like Jaime would be better than the ones you could think of! Why wait till next year? How about letting the children choose water bottles instead of sugary milk? They surely don't want to drink out of the lead filled drinking faucets!

Congratulations Jamie Oliver. Schools should try to serve more nutritional foods to children. Unfortunately with so many schools on tight budgets and children who get free lunches, and not having much to eat at home, the schools are trying to fill the children's stomachs in the least expensive ways possible. I'm a grandmother whose children, even as adults don't eat cakes and other junk except for an occassional treat. They grew up with fruit and vegetable trays in the fridge. They snacked when hungry and that was that. If they weren't hungry at supper I knew they had been eating healthy off and on all day. One sticks by that rule with his children, who are slender children. One allows her kids to eat anything they want and they are obese. Let's face it, 130 pounds at 12 years old isn't healthy. The others don't have children yet. Keep up the fight, and if you're ever coming to east Texas, please send me a missive. Thank you for caring about the children of this country.

I was completely disgusted by the "pink slime". I will never eat ground beef again unless I have personally ground it. How can the government allow this to be? I have every right to know what I am ingesting. Who were the politicians that voted to allow this and why are they still in office?? I want every person in the United States to DEMAND that we know if our food has been treated with AMMONIA!!! Everyone needs to read up on this. I did, and was shocked to find out that the ammonia treatment does NOT kill all the eColi and salmonella bacteria and many cases of food poisoning have been reported. Do a Google search of "pink slime" and be shocked just like I was.

Excellent notion, this. I watched all of season 1 last night, just after the Premier on Season 2.

I love your energy and conviction. I love your experiments. I admire how you handle those around you. But... that's not going to keep the TV show going.

At the moment, this is more of a documentary than a TV Drama, but with the style of a TV Drama (and thus in some viewer's eyes the credibility) but without the draw, so you're loosing both audiences. See if you can bring in Gordon Ramsey to help out a bit; America loves spine and backbone, and screaming confrontations. My husband loves to watch Gordon Ramsey just to see if he can make people cry.

Or, possibly go full-on documentary style.

Sadly, this particular style will not allow you to succeed in what you're doing; because they don't ask for you and your help- you're trying to work your way in. The difference in acceptable behavior between the two scenarios is profound and undeniable.

Basically; try for a bit more spunk, and less frustrated resignation. While definitely understandable, American's don't go for the long suffering, turtle vs. hare, persistence pays off deal on a regular basis. We go for immediate results and exercising righteous power over the "bad guys." The Flash mob was a great idea in the last season; it added excitement back into your work.

Healthy ingredients tend to cost more than cheap processed ones, so guess what? If they change for the better, food costs will go up and guess who ends up paying - either taxpayers or teachers who get laid off because there's no mney to pay them. Schools are here to educate, not feed. What LAUSD needs to do is stop feeding kids for free. If you want to have a healthy school cafeteria, that's great, but charge a fair price for the food. If parents can't afford, there's a thing called a lunchbox. Use it!

I have a question about the meat processing and hamburger. If I am buying grass fed hamburger or organic hamburger, is it still processed in the sam way using the "extras" and ammonia?

Why did u choose that fight/ why NOT? STart at the Heart of it all
arkansas has huge organic frming, and the Fayetteville schol district and local mayor would welome u? why shoot at elephants when it is the elks u really m]need tomake a score :( As these hunters about say? WHY didnt u start in the herats:( why run away from where the farmers are?
U make no senses, i say give this and offer no feasible thats? come make arkansas less fat we have the Highets per capita yet also all the fresh produce about tpo make it Turn tidde?
danile wise


First let me say I am very glad that this show is working hard to help all us americans.

That being said I think it would be very helpful if someone would clue Jamie on that its big business in America hurting Americans. Just how much money are the companies who provide food to LA schools making on the cheap crap they are providing. Jamie also should know that school boards in the large cities are corrupt. Don't think some of those board members if not all are on the take. The LA school board acts like they have something to hide.

As far as trying to convince a the owner of a greasy spoon food stand that he should offer health food is a waste of time. He fills a niche in the market and if someone wants health food I have no doubt that LA is filled with places to go.

Not all americans are unaware. Whole Foods does very well as does the health food areas in Costco. The biggest problem is that americans do not cook any more. They eat more and more processed foods.

Question: does McDonalds use the pink beef slim in thier products ?

Would someone who lives within LAUSD contact the district and request a list of all the vendors that the district contracts with for school lunches? LAUSD is employed by you, and you have right to that information. Perhaps a crosscheck between food vendors and political contributions might be enlightening. At the very least, you'd be finding out the source of the food and could get more information about how it is processed.

If I was horrified at season 1, I'm appalled by season 2 and I've not seen the premier yet. How can we as American's deny that we are slowly killing our own children with garbage food. And the fact that we are stubborn, persistant and self righteous in that choice is indefensible. I thank God that I have a bit on the ball and send my children with a brown bag of good stuff not processed ick

the ground beef demonstration last week was literally stomach turning. It was similar to the chicken nuggets last season. My daughter will not eat school lunch any more. I think every school age child should see this with their parent or caregiver.

Mr Oliver, kudos to you for drawing attention to how our children are being fed in public schools. As a parent and now grandparent I have always advocated for the removal of the systematic offering of the freezed dried toxic mess served to children. When I was in high school and even when my daughters were in elementry school, freshly cooked (not frozen) hot meals were served everyday. It was considered a treat if on fridays children would be given a choice of pizza,hot dogs or burgers. This didn't happen every friday. I would love for you to come to the city of Philadelphia. Especially since many of our children recieve subsidized lunches and breakfast (government supported) that far way short of what is really healthy foods. What's sad is many parents idea of good healthy food seemed to reflect what given in the schools. Please can you come?
Dee from Philly

Here's another loop hole... if Jamie is not allowed to interview kids about the school food, he should have his students in culinary class survey their peers and evaluate the results.

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