I didn’t watch the show. I wasn’t going to blog about it, for one thing. But this article Arun Gupta wrote at Alternet is fascinating, digging into the various federal and state requirements for school lunches, how both policy and kids’ tastes encourages the use of processed foods … and here I am, blogging about it.
That [Jamie Oliver] failed to meet the nutritional guidelines, went way over budget and put the school district at risk of losing federal funding is bad enough. The fact that so many children stopped drinking milk, dropped out of the program and appeared to be eating less food,* strongly suggests they were worse off under his program. As Cabell County has sidelined his menu it’s more evidence that the “Food Revolution” collapsed at the barricades.
That said, school food could be improved tremendously. But it’s a comment on how bad the broader food system and culture is when studies show kids who participate in the school lunch program are eating healthier food than they would otherwise.
Why did kids stop drinking milk? He banned flavored milk as being “too sweet” — despite that almost half of the sugar in the milk is lactose, which, y’know, is in all milk. He also decried serving baked “french fries” at school — because they’re French, I guess, because it’s not like they were deep-fried.
*Gupta also notes this was a school where 86% of the kids qualify for free or reduced-cost meals. They may not be able to afford to buy or bring another lunch. Hell, some of those kids may not get any food that isn’t at school.