Researchers from West Virginia University’s Health Research Center, surveyed the students, teachers and food service staff involved with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution in Huntington W.Va.

Their findings?

  • 77% of the students indicated they were “very unhappy” with the new foods served at school.…they preferred chicken nuggets and fries  over baked chicken drumsticks with salad.
  • Lunch participation dropped from 75% to 66%…they really didn’t like those drumsticks
  • There was a 25% decrease in the consumption of milk….indicating that a lot of kids only drink milk if it’s sweetened and flavored

  • 83% of the “lunch ladies” reported a longer preparation time for the Food Revolution meals….they estimated that cooking whole foods would require an extra hour of prep time per day
  • 67% of the cooks reported food safety concerns re raw chicken & tomatoes
  • 83% of the cooks rated the taste of the standard meals as good or excellent, while
  • Only 50% of the cooks rated Jamie Oliver’s meals as good, with the remaining 50% rating them as fair or poor.

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Their Conclusions

Overall, the findings for the initial evaluation of the impact of the Food Revolution program suggest that the new menus were not well accepted and had a negative impact on meal participation and milk consumption, despite some benefits identified through the nutrient analysis.

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It is important to note that this evaluation reflects only the short-term effects of the program; continuing to evaluate the impact on students and staff over a longer period of time is recommended to identify any longer-term changes in acceptability, burden, and nutrition.

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My Conclusions

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  • I couldn’t care less if 77% of the students were very unhappy with the new, healthier foods….they’re kids.  Of course they hate “healthy” food. That’s their #1 jobs as kids.
  • And our job as adults is to make sure they eat all their vegetables.   Most of them also hate going to school, but we know it’s good for them, so we make them go.   The same logic applies for their food…it’s our job to do what’s right, not what’s popular.
  • Why are kids drinking strawberry milk anyway?
  • Re: the longer prep time….of course preparing “real food” is going to take longer than re-heating chicken nuggets. But, why is that even an argument?   Isn’t the health and education of our children worth that extra hour?
  • Re: the food safety concern….aren’t cooks trained in proper food handling?   And why are tomatoes so darned scary anyway?
  • And finally, if the cooks at this school actually prefer chicken nuggets and fries over one of Jamie Oliver’s personal creations….the school needs new cooks…with functioning taste-buds.

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The Moral of My Rant

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Our collective short term thinking threw the world into a global recession.

Similarly, short term thinking has also made our kids fat and unhealthy.

It’s time to grow up and start thinking “long term” as it pertains to our kids’ health & education.

Feeding them “real food” is just a first step.