Battle of West Virginia vs. U.K. Being Weighed Across U.S.
By Bernice Hurst, Contributing Editor, RetailWire
Viewers not yet in agreement with chef Jamie Oliver’s efforts on ABC’s Food
Revolution TV program may be interested to know about improvements
to children’s behavior, academic achievements and school attendance
that coincide with the campaign he launched in the U.K. A two-year study
has shown higher test scores in English and science as well as less absenteeism,
which is attributed to improved health.
But initial reactions to the American version in which the chef attempted
to work his healthy-eating magic at Huntington High School in West Virginia
are not entirely favorable.
Reviewing the program, watching-tv.ew.com described, “The
wrath and intransigence of the school cafeteria cooks” encountered by “the
cheeky British chef,” who was shocked to discover U.S. schools classifying
French fries as vegetables. Mr. Oliver’s efforts included a repetition of a
demonstration done in British schools, dissecting a chicken and using the scraps
to produce breaded nuggets. Like their counterparts, the children were repulsed
by the raw mixture. Unlike their U.K. counterparts, the American kids opted
to eat the fried end product.
Some of the British parents were so incensed by
being lectured that they pushed burgers and fries through the school gates
at lunchtime. So the two groups are not all that dissimilar. It isn’t,
as The New York Times said, “a
culture clash between an abrasive British interloper and a city of stolid,
There were other similarities: Mr. Oliver was mocked by media as well as parents;
he also had to work hard persuading the cooks to try his suggestions and encouraging
the youngsters to at least taste the results. It was an uphill struggle but
he is still eager to do it all again in what the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention described as “the nation’s unhealthiest town.”
the program is just being aired now, some months have passed since it was made
and the school’s principal, Patrick O’Neal, says “three
to four months is not enough time to see if this program is going to be successful,” according
“I think it’s a spark to start a bigger fire,” he added. “I
don’t see it as a failure, and I don’t see it as a true success yet. It’s going
to take some time for it to ignite nationwide.”
With viewing figures rising to a whopping 7.5 million after Mr. Oliver’s chat
with Oprah Winfrey, there are signs that people are hearing his message. The
question is whether they will begin to listen as well.
Discussion Questions: Will America’s kids be responsive to chef Jamie Oliver’s
views and recommendations? What chance do you give a TV show about healthy
eating habits od becoming a success in the U.S.?
[Author’s commentary] West Virginia University researchers agreed that
it may take time but were disappointed that fewer children are now buying lunch.
Hopefully, all involved will be heartened by results of a two-year study in
the UK covered by The Times and The Guardian showing that “scores
in national curriculum tests at 11 rose in English and science at schools where
Oliver’s menus were introduced.” In addition, there are indications
that a “relative fall in absenteeism” shows improvements to children’s
health “which could have long-lasting consequences for the children involved
not only through improvement in educational achievements, but also in terms
of their life expectancy, quality of life and productive capacity on the labour
- Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Last Night: Kindergarteners with Knives – watching-tv-ew.com
- Trying to Put Nutrition on the Lunchroom Menu – The New
- Kids spurn Jamie Oliver’s healthy lunches – MSNBC
- Jamie Oliver’s school dinners ‘are more effective than literacy hour’ – The
- Jamie Oliver’s school dinners shown to have improved academic results – The