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David Ross

Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" 2010

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One way to possibly train people to prepare food and to train young adults for real life would be to offer a culinary course in school that counted as a grade. Everyone is cut out for college and high schools offer business classes, and some work after school counts as class credits. If they had a hands-on class to teach the high school kids about healthy food preparation and the like, then the school would have a cost-efficient way to get trained help (maybe local community college could help with direction) and offer the child a career direction.

Rhonda

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There may be more hope. Chicago Public School officials are unveiling some new school lunch standards.

The standards will continue the ban on trans fat and deep frying. They'll also make fruits and vegetables more readily available in schools.

CPS says the standards will let the country's third-largest district exceed the Agriculture Department's Gold Standard of the Healthier US School Challenge.

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As annoying as I find Rachael Ray, I love the message of her 30-Minute Meals show – that yes you can cook real food in a really short amount of time.

As annoying as I find Rachael Ray, I'd love to see her "use her powers for good" and attempt a similar type of program. She's obviously a more recognizable persona in America than Jamie, and she's already going after the title of the next Oprah/Martha so it would fit right in with her "brand". I don't think she could deal with the negative pushback though - she is all about the non-controversy.

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Can I just say that apart from the food politics, I'm actually enjoying this show. Maybe it's a bit of a guilty pleasure but I do and I'm rooting for those kids that cooked the meal with him.

Even with my kids nearly out of the house, I've always worked and always cooked. Weekday dinners are good but simple things that I can get on the table relatively quickly after walking in the door at about 6:00. At least one night a week we bring food in and another night we have "review of the week" (aka leftovers). And, when all else is beyond me, I keep staples in the pantry and refrigerator. (Perhaps that's a skill worth teaching. Before you can "throw something together," it helps to know how to shop and what staples to have on hand. But I digress.)

I'll prepare more time consuming things on the weekend or use the time to get some things pre-ready for use later. (At the moment, I have too much chicken stock in my freezer.) But then, I like to cook and bake.

I grew up in a home where my mom worked at least some of the time. She was a good and somewhat adventurous home cook. And, we all had to do something from setting the table to doing the dishes to washing & drying the lettuce or even "getting things started" when we were home alone in the afternoons as teens. While they have some way to go, I'd like to believe that my kids have the basics to get started in their early adult life and go from there.

Till then, I'm rooting for Jamie and the folks in West Virginia and all the working moms, school kids and lunch ladies everywhere.

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Perhaps that's a skill worth teaching. Before you can "throw something together," it helps to know how to shop and what staples to have on hand.

That's a very good point.

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One way to possibly train people to prepare food and to train young adults for real life would be to offer a culinary course in school that counted as a grade. Everyone is cut out for college and high schools offer business classes, and some work after school counts as class credits. If they had a hands-on class to teach the high school kids about healthy food preparation and the like, then the school would have a cost-efficient way to get trained help (maybe local community college could help with direction) and offer the child a career direction.

Rhonda

We used to have just such courses. They were called "Home Economics," and, I'm sad to say, it was my generation that ridiculed them to the point that they were excised from the curriculum in favor of more "relevant" classes.

We watched an episode of Jamie tonight. It's a bit contrived -- the whole DJ bet thing seemed like a set-up -- but his plan is a winner, on the whole. Using a simple stir-fry as a hands-on exercise was a great idea. Yeah, you can teach about shopping (and it's an important skill), but showing how to create a meal in less time than it takes to get in the car and negotiate a drive-thru is more inspiring. Get peeps to buy pre-cut peppers, garlic and chicken breasts first (and cut a little ginger), then you can move the stakes. Baby steps.

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Maybe I am not understanding what Jamie is going for with this show and his time in Huntington. At first, it seemed like it was all about food in schools. Now he is branching out to getting the community as whole involved. Not that is bad, but it seems to lack focus to me. Kids aren't going to be cooking their own food at school. And even if their parents start cooking well at home, the issue of food at school still remains. Maybe this is the only way to make the show interesting? Week after week of school lunches could be boring to watch, I suppose.

I agree that the bet with the DJ was contrived. It's almost like he was told (encouraged) to be the antagonist in this story.

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Jamie's goal was and always has been to reform the eating habits of the entire town. He started from the schools and now he's moving to the broader community.

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My kids were required to take a 1 semester "life skills" course before finishing High School. (The youngest is about to graduate.) It included things like basics of balancing a check book but no basic cooking. Perhaps that could include a short 2-3 week unit on shopping and cooking. Of course they were also required to take a 1 semester health course. Cooking (not home ec) was a 1 semester course option that counted toward a tech arts requirement.

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I am not sure if making home edu part of the curriculum will help in that age. That said, having lived in NYC and now Boston I see tons of young people shopping at wholefoods and trader Joe, this is clearly income driven though. Unprocessed food is just much more expensive compared to processed and fast food. I just looked at jamies stir fry recipe, I didn't see any vegetables in it. That is often the expensive part unless you switch to frozen, which he seems to do in his show.

That said, that the whole foods trend catches on and even walmart starts offering organics, that is big to me. That you see somewhat healthy fast food chains flourishing as well.

It just hasn't reached the entire US yet and something has to be done about cost that it reaches lower income families as well.

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I love Jamie Oliver. Haven't seen the shows. I don't get his channels in Edmonton AB Canada - we get a ton of American TV - but not those. Darn... but, I have started a Nutritious Lunch Program at the middle school I am teaching at - and teaching students to cook at... and it is a long hard road. I started a Catering Club Tues and Wed after school from 3-4:30 - yes, that is two days a week after school for all students who go to our school (and some of their little brothers and sisters), to cook.

Tuesdays the students cook or bake what we plan the we before and take it home. What ever they are interested in making. It is a really fun relaxed night - often with Grandma's recipes and lots of stories to tell. We've had chocolate chip cookie recipe bake offs - lots of those kinds of things, (recipe comparisons) and a whole pile of fun.

The following day we make the nutritious lunch which we sell on a cost recovery and wee bit of profit basis - so that Catering Club is free. Every Friday then, we sell 50 to 60 nutritious lunches - have them hot and ready to go, and all sold within 15 minutes. They sell from 2.50 to 3.50 a lunch. Sometimes 2 dollars and sometimes 4 dollars... but usually right around three for a delicious, nutritious, and economical wonderful and usually hot, lunch.

The principal is still letting chips and junk be sold at the school store. Don't ask me why. It is a hard road. My grade 9 Health students were to bring a nutritious snack for one of our classes, and even I was shocked at what they thought was nutritious... and I had been teaching and working with them.

Enough for now.

:)

Valerie

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My grade 9 Health students were to bring a nutritious snack for one of our classes, and even I was shocked at what they thought was nutritious... and I had been teaching and working with them.

I'm curious to hear some examples. One of my coworkers says she's trying to eat healthier, but her new "healthy" lunches still include cup-a-soups and frozen meals. And when she does make soup from "scratch", she uses bouillon cubes in place of stock. She thinks this is all good.

Another friend gives her daughter lunchables and instant mac & cheese and considers that "real food". The way she looks at it, as long as it isn't junk food (like chips & candy), then it's good for you. She also doesn't think McDonald's is nearly as bad as it's made out to be. And yes, she believes she's eating and feeding her daughter healthy food.

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Too late to edit my previous post, but I thought I should point out that I'm not above eating instant mac & cheese or frozen dinners occasionally too, but I don't kid myself that it's good food.

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Interesting little link about what it would cost to make one simple change in a school lunch program

Pretty hard to get a handle on those numbers; they could be a lot of money, or hardly any at all. For example, what increase in fees/taxes (or however those places pay for school lunches) would that correspond to, percentage wise, per tax payer? Or how much is it per student? Or, at the very least, what percentage change is that in the lunch budget?

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Interesting little link about what it would cost to make one simple change in a school lunch program

Pretty hard to get a handle on those numbers; they could be a lot of money, or hardly any at all. For example, what increase in fees/taxes (or however those places pay for school lunches) would that correspond to, percentage wise, per tax payer? Or how much is it per student? Or, at the very least, what percentage change is that in the lunch budget?

The District's on the grid are all big districts. Try thinking of it this way...for most District's their major source of funding for the school lunch program is from Free and Reduced price meals. Paid meal - those students paying full price - generally make up less than 10-15% of the revenue generated by a school lunch program. The Federal reimbursement for a Free Lunch is $2.78 per lunch, from that the District must pay salary and wages, which is probably going to eat up somewhere in the range of $1.60- $1.75 of that $2.78 reimbursement. Typically, wages and benefits make up about 60-65% of a school lunch budget. Some Districts charge their school lunch programs other overhead fees to cover administrative and custodial costs.

So, out of that $2.78 reimbursement $.85 or less is going to actually pay for the food that is served. USDA commodities will greatly stretch that $ .85 but commodities won't cover the whole menu. One of the examples was switching to fresh green beans rather than canned one, which would increase costs $5,500 each time it was served. If the District served fresh green beans twice a month, the cost to purchase that item would be $11,000, serve them twice a week for 7 out of the 10 months school is in session and that adds $77,000 to the food budget for one item. The juice example would add $133,000 annually to that District's food budget. It doesn't really matter what percentage of the total budget that would be. That's only 1 item and not many District's can absorb that kind of cost increase for 1 item.

To put it into perspective. I was the Director of Food Service for the San Francisco Unified School District in the early to mid-90s. My budget was about $13 million. Of that, $8.5 million went to pay wages and benefits right off the top. About 3-3.5$ went for food purchases, including paying for commodity products and commodity processing, the rest of the budget covered other expenses and overhead. We had 120 schools and/or serving sites, did just under 20,000 breakfast daily and I think around 40,000 lunches daily. Having to absorb $133,000 annually for juice doesn't work when your total food budget is $3.5 mil. Nor does spending $5,500 a day for fresh green beans. When you're feeding numbers like that, making just a few changes at a high cost tend to add up very quickly, there are usually no additional sources of revenue to offset the increases. Hope this helps a bit

How do you make the changes affordable for the programs offering them?

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So, out of that $2.78 reimbursement $.85 or less is going to actually pay for the food that is served. USDA commodities will greatly stretch that $ .85 but commodities won't cover the whole menu. One of the examples was switching to fresh green beans rather than canned one, which would increase costs $5,500 each time it was served. If the District served fresh green beans twice a month, the cost to purchase that item would be $11,000, serve them twice a week for 7 out of the 10 months school is in session and that adds $77,000 to the food budget for one item. The juice example would add $133,000 annually to that District's food budget. It doesn't really matter what percentage of the total budget that would be. That's only 1 item and not many District's can absorb that kind of cost increase for 1 item.

You are mixing numbers. Unless I know how many meals that covers, those numbers are meaningless. For example, $11,000 over 11,000 meals would, indeed, be quite a disaster when there is only $0.85 per meal. $11,000 over 1,100,000 meals would only be $0.01 per meal, a change in costs of less than 1%. Absolute numbers are meaningless, especially when the absolute budget is not given.

To be very very clear: I am not accusing you of any kind of dishonesty, but quoting absolute numbers is almost always disingenuous, because it is designed to make things sound "big", when in fact it may not be big at all in the scope of things. So I still don't know if those beans are expensive or not.

To clarify: I cannot tell if the numbers applied directly to your scenario of a $13M budget or not (i.e. do the scale to the number of meals you were serving). As to making it affordable, the larger question is: What is the value to society of the food you serve people? Not an easy question, but much larger then "can I make the current budge make sense"


Edited by Paul Kierstead (log)

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To clarify: I cannot tell if the numbers applied directly to your scenario of a $13M budget or not (i.e. do the scale to the number of meals you were serving). As to making it affordable, the larger question is: What is the value to society of the food you serve people? Not an easy question, but much larger then "can I make the current budge make sense"

I take very little personally any more :laugh: especially where it concerns school lunch. I've been happily out of that segment of the industry for a while now.

Making the budget work is all that it's about. All that matters to administrators and the board of education is that the food service program does not infringe on the general fund. And they make no bones about telling program that if it does infringe, it's taking money out of the classroom. It's all about budget.

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Throwing in a foreign view, back in my home Germany we do not have a school lunch program as a general rule. Some schools may, but these are typical exceptions.

We used to have brown bagged sandwiches. Looking at what they eat in Huntington I don't think it would be much worse.


Edited by jk1002 (log)

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Here's a blog by a teacher who eats school lunch every day. She also has guest bloggers from around the world talking about their programs.

I really want the French school lunch menu!

http://fedupwithschoollunch.blogspot.com/

The show is OK. I could do without the created drama.

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Of course, I lived in a time before "Lunchables" and bottled, flavored, "power" waters were invented. Today many people wouldn't want to spend the time it takes, which is really only a few minutes, to make a decent sandwich and to put it in a brown paper bag to take to school. If you care about yourself and your kids I'd take the time. Get off the cell phone and stop texting and make a decent sandwich and put an apple in a bag.

I agree with a lot of what's been said on this thread, but frankly, this kind of language is not going to win over your average time-stressed parent.

I have two kids, one in 5th and one in 3rd grade. Getting everyone up, dressed, fed, and out the door to two different schools with all the homework, permission slips, etc., plus getting myself ready for work is challenging. I breathe a sigh of relief on the days when I don't have to pack two lunches with radically different components because they don't like to eat the same things. Granted, I live in an excellent school district that offers reasonably nutritious lunches and my kids will usually choose fruit and vegetables along with their tacos, so I feel comfortable letting them buy lunch occasionally.

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I'm curious to hear some examples. One of my coworkers says she's trying to eat healthier, but her new "healthy" lunches still include cup-a-soups and frozen meals. And when she does make soup from "scratch", she uses bouillon cubes in place of stock. She thinks this is all good.

Another friend gives her daughter lunchables and instant mac & cheese and considers that "real food". The way she looks at it, as long as it isn't junk food (like chips & candy), then it's good for you. She also doesn't think McDonald's is nearly as bad as it's made out to be. And yes, she believes she's eating and feeding her daughter healthy food.

That is exactly what kinds of things my students would thing are healthy. One brought Ritz crackers with Kraft slices. Another brought Nutella with a biscuit cookie. Two brought a dip with sour cream and cream cheese and celery to dip it in... and one brought deep fried plantains. Really deep fried. Most were commercially purchased snack foods... granola bars really high in sugars, or "healthy snacks" like snackable type items. It blew me away. Truly. For their lunches, they go to their pantry at home (and these are the lucky ones who bring food from home) and pick "one of thee and one of these and one of those..." all little individually packaged and pre-purchased items for lunch. What has happened to us? I loved the beginning of my bread baking class with Richard Bertinet a little over a week ago when he compared white sliced sandwich bread to processed cheese slices. "Why do we call this bread? It is a bread substitute, or a bread replacement, or a processed bread product... but itis not bread."

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Interesting little link about what it would cost to make one simple change in a school lunch program

Interesting to see who the various sponsors of this website are...

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