Food Revolution LA: Delivery For Deasy!Thu 30 Jun 2011
Story by Seth Nickinson
At the conclusion of filming for Season 2 of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, we all witnessed important steps that have been made toward change in Los Angeles, including Jamie building a relationship with the LAUSD and new opportunities for families, students, and Dino’s customers. But that was really just the beginning. Here’s an update on the Food Revolution in LA:
BREAKING NEWS: just yesterday, LAUSD Superintendent Dr. John Deasy accepted a delivery of 500 letters handwritten by students (left image) to ask for his commitment to better school food. Photo above left and more on this campaign below.
The tireless efforts of LA residents, community organizations, Jamie, and the Food Revolution team have brought the flavored milk campaign to a huge victory. The LAUSD Board just affirmed that this fall only wholesome, white milk will be served in schools! Local champions like Food for Lunch – led by Jennie Cook (bottom middle photo, on the right), California Food Policy Advocates, and USC CORC have been addressing sugar and additives in kids’ school meals.
The critical next step is to market the white milk to parents, kids, and food service staff this summer and fall. White milk must receive the same support and funding that has gone toward promoting chocolate milk. Los Angeles Food Revolutionaries are working with the LAUSD to spread the word about the change and promote the benefits of white milk to LA families. LAUSD – like nearly every district in America – still has no overall cap on sugar in school meals, meaning kids can still consume lots of sugar in school meals. The flavored milk victory is a first step toward a comprehensive policy on sugar and a shift toward unprocessed food.
In addition to changing school food, the Food Revolution is committed to helping people – especially kids – learn how to cook. We are thrilled that our “big rig” – our tricked-out semi-trailer mobile classroom – has already begun teaching cooking classes in LA at the Challengers Boys and Girls Club. A suite of fantastic recipes and a 5-week curriculum have been developed by Jamie’s food team with health expert input, and the program is being evaluated for its impact on young people’s food habits. More on the adventures of the mobile cooking classroom to come.
Further change depends on access, transparency, and accountability with the LAUSD, something Jamie had a hard time achieving. Revolutionaries in Los Angeles are continuing to work hard for reliable information and meaningful collaboration. The Food Revolution and a number of respected LA community organizations came together to help more than 2300 parents and student write and deliver personalized letters to the new LAUSD Superintendent Dr. Deasy, and the Board, to establish the importance of school food issues.
These letters have caught the attention of the district and paved the way for parents and community groups to have direct meetings with the Dr. Deasy’s senior staff and the director of Food Services. Community members are pushing for permanent forums for parent input and tangible commitments to the healthiest cafeteria environment possible. Diana Starr is an example of a local Revolutionary parent engaging the District directly.
Throughout the season, the Food Revolution has been raising awareness locally. We now have more than 15,000 Revolutionaries in LA, working for change locally and communicating online. We have organized eight culturally sensitive and community-based screenings of episodes of the Food Revolution at schools and with youth, garden, and family organizations. Screenings included not only a discussion of the issues and people’s hopes for the future, but free burritos too (thanks Chipotle)! New audiences are being exposed to the powerful message of the Food Revolution.
What’s Next for LA Schools
The Revolution is optimistic about even more changes to come in Los Angeles, including new entrée choices, more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, increased access to clean, refreshing drinking water, enforcement of a policy for adequate time to eat lunch and a potential policy to cap overall sugar. And just as Jamie taste-tested the food, so will we! It might sound good on the menu, but the truth is in what’s served on the tray.
The Food Revolution in LA, and all of Southern California, has just begun. If you are an LA Food Revolutionary or an interested neighbor, make sure to:
1. Sign Jamie’s Petition
2. Join our Food Revolution Los Angeles Facebook group!
If you are not in LA or California check out our Activists Map to find local Food Revolution groups near you. You can then start the Food Revolution in your community - we’ll be keeping track of your progress and helping you make meaningful change in the coming months.
About the author: Seth Nickinson is the US Field Director for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution campaign.
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