LA’s disgraceful attempt to keep Jamie Oliver out of its schools
It was always going to be a challenge, trying to teach the hamburger-chomping inhabitants of the world’s fattest nation to swap fried junk food for fruit and veg. But, despite having been enthusiastically-endorsed by Michelle Obama earlier this year, Jamie Oliver’s ambitious and commendable “Food Revolution” has run into a political brick wall.
As a follow-up to his Emmy-winning US television show in which he attempted to change the lardy eating habits of a city called Huntingdon, in West Virgina, the Naked Chef announced a few months back that he was going to record a second series set in the most deprived areas of inner-city Los Angeles.
That, however, was before clipboard-wielding bureaucrats at the LA Unified Schools District got in on the act. These folk, who run the city’s failing state schools, have refused to co-operate with Oliver’s plans to help improve the artery-clogging junk churned out by their under-resourced canteens.
According to the Los Angeles Times, one Melissa Infusino, the District’s “Director of Partnerships,” wrote to the chef’s production company saying she wouldn’t play ball because: “We believe our direct work with nutrition experts, health advocates, the community, schools and students is the most effective strategy for our continued success and improvement.”
Her letter, written in the classic legalese of a trained pen-pusher, added that time and budgetary constraints mean that if LA’s schools were to participate, it would: “prevent us from committing 100 per cent of our efforts to our students.”
There’s a word for Ms Infusino’s comments, one that could also describe the contents of the LA Unified Schools District’s average canteen meal: crap.
The real reason she wants to keep Jamie Oliver out of LA’s schools is no doubt very simple: Ms Infusino is terrified about the nutritional horrors he’ll find, and too ashamed to allow America’s TV-watching public to see the deep-fried horrors her employer inflicts daily upon the children in its care.
Her tactic for dealing with the chef – namely obfuscation – is true to form for the LA Unified Schools District, a stunningly dysfunctional organisation with some of the nation’s worst-achieving schools under its command and (speaking as a reporter who has tried to deal with it in the past) a comically-bloated and ineffective bureaucracy at its helm.
Jamie Oliver is now hoping that a mixture of “parent power” and the newly-elected Governor of California, Jerry Brown, can over-ride the District’s efforts to ban him from their school campaigns. I, for one, wish him every success.Tagged in: food revolution, jamie oliver, los angeles, unified schools
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