March 21, 2009

Food Revolution Jamie Oliver's Show

There are about 30 million students in the school lunch program in this country and they literally eat tons of food each and everyday of the school year.  Jamie Oliver is taking on the established norms and products with the goal of improving peoples lives via food activism and better eating.  My experience working with some of the largest school foodservice districts provide insight into these issues and how Jaime should take this group on for improved meals and obesity rates.

Before he can change the system, he has to get a handle on the regulations and system requirements of feeding students in the USA.  Hopefully, he can get a handle on these requirements in the coming weeks and make a difference but the issues are far beyond simply choosing to eat different.  The food must be prepared, served, paid for, and consumed by the students.

Until he fully understands the system, he is fighting the battle with limited resources and the wrong stuff.  He will have to beat them at their own game and in some areas it is already so stacked against his methods for so many reasons.  If you are feeding 120,000 daily in your district, a slight change to the menu or product might result in 100's of hours of additional processing of fresh or whipping a batch of some sort for a fresh and all-natural alternative.  Also, in many areas of the country it is difficult to find fresh products 'at any price' in certain categories and certain times of the year.

He is right in so many ways and I expect the many companies selling to the school market will begin to move in this direction over time and slowly away from the current structure.  At one point, he is downgrading and refusing to want to sell Pierre Foods chicken products in the school.  The alternative for the team includes a late night baking of chicken from scratch for the kids.  It makes footage for a television program but if he wants to change the system he will have to spend far more effort and provide much documentation for the US Lunch Program bureaucracy.  It appears he will be doing just that on future episodes.

Also, a special thanks to Snark Chariot for help with my spelling! Snark writes short sentences that sell things.  

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