Jamie Oliver, a world renowned English chef famous for his uncomplicated style of cooking and love of fresh, organic foods, launched a TV documentary that aired on British television in February 2005. Jamie’s School Dinners revealed the state school dinners in one British school in Southeast London. Kidbrook School, like at many British schools, feeds the majority of its students with government funded meals. Jamie’s documentary successfully exposed the poor quality and processed foods these school children were consuming. Jamie’s School Dinner’s soon escalated in a nation-wide campaign, Feed Me Better, which applied pressure on the Prime Minister to increase government spending on school dinners in Britain, promote healthy eating and tackle the growing obesity problem that currently concerns a third of all British children, aged between two and fifteen years of age. With the support of the media and the success of this campaign, Tony Blair invested £280 million into revitalising schools kitchens, equipment and food ingredients.
Jamie Oliver’s new six point plan to help improve eating habits in Britain is comprised of the following proposals:
1) make cooking and life skills compulsory school subjects,
2) employ and train cookery teachers,
3) banish junk food in schools,
4) educate parents about healthy eating,
5) employ trained dinner ladies and most importantly;
6) a ten year government plan to finance "some real money to re-educate people about proper eating habits," says Jamie.
This autumn new rules were implemented banning junk food, soft drinks and poor quality meats, two servings of vegetables are required to accompany meals and there are limits on fried food. Next year we shall see limitations on the content of vending machines and in 2008 nutritional content in school dinners will be measured and maintained. So far Jamie Oliver has convinced the government to spend 50p per primary school student and 60p per secondary school student, this is in comparison to the 37p meals that were served prior to Jamie’s campaigning. Whether Jamie’s manifesto will improve the eating habits of school children in the long-term through his six point plan or whether it will be a quick fix to a very complex social problem is yet to be known.