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Jamie Oliver: Stirring Up a Food Fight

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Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is cooking up more than home made meals from fresh ingredients. The show has already stirred up deeply seeded emotions about school food feeding systems...all before the first episode airs tonight!

Conversations and critiques over Jamie Oliver's 6-part U.S. reality TV show has created quite a cacophony on listservs and talk shows, including Letterman and Oprah. The Washington Post already gave a negative review. So I can't help but chime in, as should you. (teaser, there will be an opportunity below for possible ABC air time if you want to voice your opinion)

Since the Jamie Oliver show provided an appetizer premiere on Sunday night, food service directors around the country have been berated with calls and the School Nutrition Association released a press release about what 'ingredients he's missing.'

As explained by Diane Chapeta, Director Child Nutrition Services, Serving Chilton & Hilbert Public Schools:

I spent my entire day (Monday) talking to "mad" parents, returning emails of "mad" directors, and discussing the program with "mad" students. What did Jamie Oliver accomplish Sunday night? Exactly what he set out to...great ratings. Hurray! What did I accomplish on Monday? Not a darn thing. I didn't get all my calls in to the farmers on my waiting list, I didn't make my final call to the senator on my list, and I didn't get any of the backlog of paperwork done. Hurray? I don't think so.

Food service staff, like Diane, (lunch ladies as Jamie calls them) have an uphill battle that he doesn't even touch upon or hasn't yet. I wish he would bring to the surface the myriad obstacles to bring fresh local food to the lunch room, most of which can be overcome, but it can't necessarily be done in a couple weeks even with star-studded British flavor. Many food service staff are doing the best they can with what they receive. If we increase the reimbursement per meal, give the kids enough time to eat, give food service proper equipment to prepare meals, many 'lunch ladies' would do better than what Jamie cooks up. (hmmm, a challenge?)

What's my worst fear in Jamie's 'get mad' approach? That the food service staff get defensive and block out good intentioned parents, farmers, teachers, (you) that approach them to start a farm to school program because Jamie poked fun of their profession on national television.

In the end, I think we all want his show to be effective: meaning Jamie's School Food Charter becomes a reality instead of a reality show. If folks get angry, great. But generate that anger into a phone call to Congress during the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, which is happening NOW, where we need our elected officials to reauthorize the bill at least at the amount the Obama Administration requested or divert that anger into energy to work with a local nonprofit to make change in the school system.

Diane does it every day:

I will continue to work with small and mid-sized farmers, and school districts, and the powers that be to keep making a change in the way our students eat; in real time, in the real world. I don't need reality television to show me how to "get angry." I've been "angry" for quite some time now. I turned my anger into something positive; farm to school. What he (Jamie) should have done on prime-time television is shown the rest of the country what we are doing about this problem, and how much more we could accomplish if we just had their support and assistance. Jamie Oliver can keep his anger; I have no use for it. The food revolution has already begun. I'm in it every day.

In sum, Jamie, instead of trying to "start" a revolution, start supporting the one that's already going on! I will watch hoping that you do.

In the meantime, after voicing our concern about no representation of the grassroots food movement/entities on the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution preview, we've been given an open window to shout and sing our message to the masses. They are wrapping up their filming for the season finale, to play on April 23rd. This is not a guarantee of any air time, but who knows? It is worth a try. We've got one week to show our strength.

________________________________________
A special note from the producer of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution
How are you starting your own Food Revolution?
"Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" wants to hear about what you are doing to start your own Food Revolution!

Whether its planting your own vegetable garden, "passing it on," cooking dinner for your family, or if you just want to bring attention to something in your community that needs change - we want to hear about it!

E-mail us a high definition video and answer the following:
• Who are you and what is the problem you're facing in your school and community?
• How are you currently, or how do you plan to improve the state of affairs?
• How has Jamie's work inspired you?
• What do you want to say to Jamie?

E-mail your response to: JOFoodRevolution@gmail.com
Please include your name and contact information - you may be selected to be featured on Jamie's new TV show!
You can also post written responses on their blog here.

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