Dammit, Jamie Oliver

I watched Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution the other night, and while I fully support the idea of feeding children better food, I’m a wee bit unhappy with Mr. Oliver.  You see, he’s publicly shamed the LA school district.  He’s painted them as this big, evil monster – essentially a dastardly corporation.  Watch the show, you’ll see what I mean.  He’s given the district a healthy dose of bad PR, and it’s going to cost them to fix their image.

And they are guilty of trying to keep him out of school kitchens.  They are guilty of trying to pinch pennies and continue feeding children horrible food.  But they’ve got a damn good reason.

The Los Angeles Unified School District had almost 700,000 students to teach in the 2007-2008, a number which is not shrinking, and those students are performing at a below-average academic level.

The budget for the district has been cut, due to California’s poor economy, year after year.  Teachers have to contend with growing class sizes, furlough days, layoffs, and a complete lack of resources.  The district’s budget is in shambles.  Without extra funding, says the Deputy Superintendent, “we are going to irreparably harm education for students.”

And Jamie Oliver knows this.  He was set the challenge “to meet the food requirements and within [the LAUSD] budget, then his folks said they couldn’t do it.”

Yet he’s persisting in publicly shaming the LAUSD, in making them look like the bad-guys on national television.  I’m not saying they’re the good guys.  I’m not.  But their first responsibility is to ensure proper education for nearly a million young people – a task that’s already a massive struggle.  Jamie Oliver has created a PR disaster for the district, one they will be forced to address.  Addressing the issue of school food will cost them money.  And where, exactly, does Mr. Oliver think that money will come from?  At what cost will he ensure healthier school lunches?

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution will come at the cost of education.

And if so many parents are really so concerned with their children’s food, what’s wrong with packing a lunch at home?


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