People Starting Their Own RevolutionWed 14 Apr 2010
Story by Danny McCubbin
Since Jamie's Food Revolution aired in the States there has been an outpouring off support from people from across the country. Here is a special story from Amy:
Hello! I first heard of your project in American Schools through a promotion on Oprah featuring Ryan Seacrest. This is the best idea I've heard of in a very long time!
My daughter attends one of the best schools in Spartanburg County (SC), but the menu is the same as every other school in the county - crap. That is a much more crass term than I would normally use, but I was appalled when the first month's menu came home in my first-grader's school folder, particularly given that I had moved to this area specifically to place my daughter in the "best" school in the county.
I am a waitress at a cafe - where over 80% of our menu is deep fried - I often eat fish or a salad, when I eat there at all. However, with a 15 year background in foodservice, I'm decidedly particular about what food comes into my home, how it is prepared, presented and received by not only my daughter, but by all who cross my threshold.
The irony - I'm on foodstamps. I clip coupons, plan my family's meals at least a week in advance, and strategically pour over the weekly grocery ads, noting what's on sale, who has double- or triple-coupon deals, and how I can possibly get the most bang for my buck, even if it is courtesy of the state. I take the money the state gives me for food as the ultimate obligation - I have a responsibility to use that money wisely, and I do so to the best of my ability. I buy larger-than-necessary quantities of chicken, fish, red meat, and trim pork when it is on sale. I clean and cut it, portion it into freezer bags, and have therefore not paid more than 1.68/lb. for any meat we've consumed in over three years.
I am constantly rewarded by smiles, cheers, mmms, and ahhs from guests in my home, even if they are six- and seven-year-olds. With my foodservice background and creativity, I have found many ways to get even little ones to eat fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy cheeses and meats. My daughter and some of her friends are learning how to use spices and herbs rather than ketchup and salt to make what they call "yucky" foods taste really good. They especially like rubbing basil between their fingertips to release the fragrance, then smelling the same scent when we add it to a pan of fresh chicken, along with feta, bowtie pasta, a little olive oil, fresh cracked black pepper and roasted red peppers. They crinkle their noses at the red and green stuff on the plate, but when they taste it (I give them no choice - this is dinner - eat it or go hungry), they LOVE it! It helps that they get to grind the pepper, pick the basil leaves and rip it to shreds, crumble the feta and say, "euu... gross" over the smell (until they taste it).
I want to be a part of this food revolution. My daughter has the privilege, (such that it is) to eat a free breakfast at school. It would save me money and time, in that it would be that much less food I have to afford on my limited budget. But I don't often let her eat at school. The offerings are most often breakfast pizza, cold cereal, or sausage biscuits, topped off with chocolate milk. So even though she could have two free meals at school every day and I could save money on at least one meal a day, I often get up and fix her an omelette, oatmeal, or fruit on a whole wheat English muffin. It's a pain, especially when I've worked a double-shift the day before - there is little I want more than to sleep in on those mornings. But the one thing that matters more is her nutrition and a healthy start to her school day.
I don't go into work until 11:30am, and I would gladly give all of that time, every day, to implementing changes in the school menu program - not just at my daughter's school, but at every school in the county - even the state, if I could make it that far. I also know that I could recruit many other parents - most of the children in our school pack their lunches every day - their parents know how bad the menu is.
There are so many ways in which we can impact our children on a day-to-day basis, but few could possibly carry the lasting effect that proper nutritional choices can. I know this in every fibre of my being, and if I can pass along even a hint of this to the rest of our county's schools, I will know that I have accomplished something monumental - something beyond the little lives with which I come into contact every day. I know I will impact my daughter - I would love the opportunity to impact the lives of all the young people in our area. Thank you for your time and for the enormous efforts you are making in our country's schools. I thank you, and I have no doubt that the children whose lives you touch will someday thank you, too! Keep it up!
About the author: Danny McCubbin is the website editor for JamieOliver.com
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