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Prancer
03-31-2010, 07:12 PM
Jamie Oliver did a similar programme about six years ago in the UK called Jamie's School Dinners.

I saw some clips from that. IIRC, there was quite a bit of resistance there, too and the kids refused to eat a lot of the meals at first.

But they always came around in the end :).

There are already several programs like this one running in the US. Alice Waters and Ann Cooper, for example, have been campaigning for better school lunches for several years.

Money is definitely a major issue here, partly for reasons outlines above, but also because most schools can't hire nutritionists or professional cooks, which is a bigger problem than just understanding your basic food groups.

There was an article in my local newspaper a while back about a professional chef working with a local food kitchen to help them prepare better meals, and she said that anyone could prepare a meal; the hardest part of teaching the food kitchen how to feed people healthy food on a budget was getting them to go to the market, see that chicken breasts and certain vegatables and fruits were on sale and plan a meal around those food items. Professional chefs have to learn to do that, but most everyday cooks plan meals and buy for them, rather than buying the best food they can at the lowest cost possible and then planning the meals around that. For one thing, most everyday cooks don't have the repetoire to do that, especially not for crowds.

You can kind of see that in this article about a chef in France who is also doing the same kind of thing: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91687769

Another way Valadier saves money is by getting maximum use out of every ingredient. He never throws anything away. In one corner of the kitchen, he is boiling down the fish heads, flesh and bones from yesterday's salmon to make a tasty bouillon for today's mussels.

Some cooks would do that sort of thing, but most would just throw out the remains because they don't know what else to do with them.

luenatic
03-31-2010, 07:21 PM
Unhealthy lunch program is a common problem across the U.S. Even here in the tree-hugging Pacific NW, our school lunch program serves pizza.


"Pizza is served in Portland high schools every day and in middle schools every other day..."

So what's the solution to such travesty? Better fast food, of course :rolleyes:


"AT A SUSTAINABLE chili factory on the outskirts of Salem, several dozen school lunch ladies and local food activists are witnessing the creation of what they hope will be the cafeteria food of the future. Forget meatloaf trucked in from 1,000 miles away.

On a factory floor reeking of onions, a shuddering metal machine splattered with a layer of chunky chili mixes all local, sustainably grown vegetables into portable containers designed for easy reheating."


Source: http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/school-lunch-crunch/Content?oid=1307413

Civic
03-31-2010, 07:56 PM
Unhealthy lunch program is a common problem across the U.S. Even here in the tree-hugging Pacific NW, our school lunch program serves pizza.



So what's the solution to such travesty? Better fast food, of course :rolleyes:



Source: http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/school-lunch-crunch/Content?oid=1307413

Actually, this sounds like a good idea. If school districts can't hire professional cooks for each school then this is one way to get healthy, locally grown food in school cafeterias within the current budget constraints.

Jenny
03-31-2010, 08:26 PM
If I had kids I'd pack a lunch every day if the cafeteria didn't offer healthy choices.

Habs
03-31-2010, 08:47 PM
If I had kids I'd pack a lunch every day if the cafeteria didn't offer healthy choices.

Exactly.
My brother and I both brown-bagged lunch to school everyday because the choices in our elementary/junior high cafeteria consisted of pizza subs, fries, hot dogs and hamburgers. It was a treat if we were allowed to get a pizza sub, and that only happened once a month - if that.

bobalina77
03-31-2010, 08:52 PM
We didn't have a cafeteria so we had no choice but to pack a lunch and in highschool it was either pack a lunch or go into town for lunch.

skatingfan5
03-31-2010, 08:53 PM
If I had kids I'd pack a lunch every day if the cafeteria didn't offer healthy choices.You'd probably want to have them bring their lunch every day, even if the school cafeteria did offer healthy choices -- if they also had junk on the menu as well. Of course, there is no guarantee that your kids wouldn't trade away their lovingly-made, healthy lunches for some pizza and fries. Unless, of course, you had taught (indoctrinated) your children well about what was good food and what was junk -- and even then they likely wouldn't always choose wisely (but they'd be more likely to, on average).

made_in_canada
03-31-2010, 09:18 PM
Do most schools in the U.S. provide lunch? Do the kids pay for their lunch or is it just provided?

No school I've gone to has ever had a cafeteria. We always had to bring a lunch. Some more inner-city schools have breakfast programs but they're not run by the school district, they're run by independent charities.

Anita18
03-31-2010, 09:18 PM
If I had kids I'd pack a lunch every day if the cafeteria didn't offer healthy choices.
I was/am a slow eater so there was no way I could finish any lunch after waiting in long lines at the cafeteria in the 45 minutes we had. :P Plus it was just cheaper to brown bag it, and my parents taught frugality above all. :lol:

It was mostly the time constraint though. :o

Allskate
03-31-2010, 09:19 PM
Actually, this sounds like a good idea. If school districts can't hire professional cooks for each school then this is one way to get healthy, locally grown food in school cafeterias within the current budget constraints.

ITA. It dovetails with what I said before about the ability to reduce the labor costs by having someone doing the labor for the entire school system. This isn't your typical fast food. It's chili made with beans and vegetables, without the junk and preservatives. And it's made locally, so they're not paying for the transportation of processed foods like so many school districts do.

That article about the French school cook showed how differently other cultures view healthy food. Salmon and mussels at a school lunch? Here's another interesting article about French school lunches:

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1967060,00.html

And some articles about costs and about the impact that healthy eating may have on school performance:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-11-25-school-lunch_N.htm

http://www.rssl.com/services/foodanalysis/FoodEnews/pages/Foode-newsedition.aspx?Category=Edition_482&a=1#517

Skittl1321
03-31-2010, 09:55 PM
Do most schools in the U.S. provide lunch? Do the kids pay for their lunch or is it just provided?

No school I've gone to has ever had a cafeteria. We always had to bring a lunch. Some more inner-city schools have breakfast programs but they're not run by the school district, they're run by independent charities.

Schools sell lunch but the government offers a free/reduced lunch program for those who cannot afford it. I've heard of private schools without cafeterias, but never a public school. I'm not sure what the standard income is for free/reduced (google might tell you) is for that, but as a child my school was less than 5% f/rl, and I lived in a middle class neighborhood. The school I student taught in was 90% f/rl, and was in a very poor neighborhood. The meals the kids got at school were the only meals they got. If kids got to school late we were required to send them for breakfast, not make them come into class.

Reduced lunch cost can sometimes be like 25 cents or 40 cents. Our school district charges "full price" at $1.25, so it is still subsidized. Teachers and visiting adults pay $2.85, because it is not subsidized.

Most schools I've been in (over 15 different districts, 50+ schools) use debit systems now, so you punch in your number and a credit is applied. Some won't even take cash. So you don't really know if your friend is on f/rl anymore.

As a kid, I brought my lunch almost everyday. Getting to buy lunch was a huge treat.
However, a home-packed lunch is a luxury many of the kids I've worked with could never afford. Many don't get dinner, some schools have programs that allow kids to come get lunch during the summer vacation. Even if they don't qualify for fully free lunch- how do you pack a brown bag lunch for only 25 cents?

Anita18
03-31-2010, 09:55 PM
Unhealthy lunch program is a common problem across the U.S. Even here in the tree-hugging Pacific NW, our school lunch program serves pizza.

So what's the solution to such travesty? Better fast food, of course :rolleyes:

Source: http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/school-lunch-crunch/Content?oid=1307413
So when I cook a large dinner for myself at home (using butter and dark meat chicken) and save most of it to nuke in the microwave later, that's unhealthy fast food too? ;)

Pizza in of itself is not unhealthy, if you use fresh ingredients and lay off on high-sodium sausage and pepperoni (ugh I can't stomach any of that now) and use a moderate amount of cheese. It's the huge amount of processed ingredients that's unhealthy, not the food itself. That and huge portions.

Jenny
03-31-2010, 10:18 PM
Schools sell lunch but the government offers a free/reduced lunch program for those who cannot afford it.

This is an important issue, but separate from the experience of most kids (at least I hope so). For kids who are not getting enough food at home, I would think it would be MORE important to feed them nutritiously at school.

For parents who opt into the program, it just doesn't make sense to me to allow you child to eat crap just because it's cheaper and easier than making lunches. We've had this discussion here before, but IMO there is nothing more important than the health and well being of ourselves and our families. As with most things, if you make it a priority, you can make it happen.

bobalina77
03-31-2010, 10:56 PM
What about working with some of the local colleges and their culinary programs? It would give the college students some experience with large groups and put some extra people in the kitchen to help out the cafeteria workers so they have time to make things fresh. Even if it's like once a week and they make things and freeze them for the rest of the week.

luenatic
03-31-2010, 11:17 PM
So when I cook a large dinner for myself at home (using butter and dark meat chicken) and save most of it to nuke in the microwave later, that's unhealthy fast food too? ;)


It is definitely way better as compared to the junk food they're serving in the cafeteria today. Fresh cooked meal is still far superior in my book. :)