Photo: nondoctor (flickr)
Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef who has gained fame with his “Food Revolution” TV series, is now facing a series of setbacks in the second season of the show.
Setbacks In LA
Oliver came to Los Angeles to film the show’s second season, only to be banned by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest school district in the country, from filming in their cafeterias.
The district defended their decision, with spokesman Robert Alaniz arguing that reality TV won’t tell the whole story and that LA school lunches “won’t compare on camera” to Oliver’s creations.
The British chef has experienced continued frustration from the city, with only “20 people and one journalist” showing up for a self-described “stunt” where he filled a school bus with sand. The 57 tons of sand, overflowing from the bus to the pavement, were used to represent the amount of sugar consumed by district children each week in flavored milk—but the event received little publicity or public support.
“LA is not on my side,” said Oliver. “They’ve got their fingers in their ears, la la la, they’re not having it…maybe LA was a big mistake.”
Expressing support for the district’s current policies, Alaniz claimed the problem is not the food served in schools, which he says comply with federal and local nutritional guidelines. Alaniz instead blamed the current cost reimbursement from the federal government for the quality of meals, explaining that schools only have 77 cents per meal per child.
Alaniz continued to blame the barrier of high prices, saying that “cost was never mentioned” in the first season of “Food Revolution.” For the successful first season, held in a West Virginia town commonly known as the fattest city in America, Oliver brought several changes to the school’s menus, but not without resistance. According to Alaniz, the district there is now operating at a deficit to pay for the cost of healthier lunches. (I couldn’t confirm this claim.)
In a recent development in early February, the district asked Oliver to submit a three-week lunch menu to them for consideration. They still refuse to allow his cameras in, but Oliver said he was very optimistic about the possibility.