Jamie Oliver Criticism School Lunch Participation Declines

January 3, 2012 by staff 

Jamie Oliver Criticism   School Lunch Participation DeclinesJamie Oliver Criticism School Lunch Participation Declines, In the Fall of 2009, British chef Jamie Oliver introduced his “Food Revolution” program in Huntington, West Virginia. As part of his goal
to bring healthier foods to youth, he and his team worked with Central City Elementary to revise the school lunch menus and remove
flavored milk. The new menus were intended to include only fresh and made-from-scratch items, eliminating the use of processed foods.
This report summarizes an evaluation of the short-term implementation and impact of this school lunch program.
Huntington was chosen for the Food Revolution program because the city was included in a metropolitan region spanning WV, Ohio,
and Kentucky that was deemed one of the unhealthiest in the US based on 2006 survey data. However, it is important to note that in
2008 WV passed new Standards for School Nutrition, becoming the first state in the nation to implement the Institute of Medicine’s
guidelines for food in schools1.
This evaluation of the Food Revolution school lunch program was designed to answer 7 questions:
1. Are the new menu items acceptable to the students?
2. Do the new menus impact lunch participation?
3. Does removal of flavored milk impact milk consumption?
4. How do teachers perceive the new menus?
5. Do the new menus impact the workload for food service staff?
6. Do the new menus impact meal costs?
7. Do the new menus meet the federal and state nutrition guidelines?
Surveys for students, teachers, and food service staff were developed based on: (a) discussions with staff from Jamie Oliver’s Food
Revolution program, the WV Department of Education, and the WV Bureau for Public Health, and (b) review of nutrition-related questionnaires
in the literature. The activities associated with this evaluation were reviewed by the WVU Institutional Review Board.
Student Surveys: 58-items assessed perceptions of 2 weeks of Food Revolution and standard lunch meals, including
10 entrées, 10 side dishes, and 4 dessert items for each lunch program.
Teacher Surveys: 17-items assessed perceptions of the Food Revolution and standard lunch items.
Cook Surveys: 23-items assessed perceptions of Food Revolution and standard lunch items, time needed for food preparation, cooking
skills, and food safety concerns.
Food Service Director Survey: 29-items assessed purchasing of ingredients, meal preparation, and perceptions of Food Revolution
and standard lunch items.
Surveys were received from 109 fourth and fifth grade students (53% girls, 47% boys), 35 teachers of
students in kindergarten through fifth grade, 6 school cooks, and the county food service director.
Answers to the Evaluation Questions:
1. Acceptability to students. As shown in Figure 1, student ratings of the entrees, sides,
and desserts were significantly higher for the standard lunch items than the Food
Revolution items. Overall, 77% of the students indicated they were “very unhappy”
with the new foods served at school. However, the program appeared to be effective
at introducing new foods to students: 66% reported they had tried new foods because
of the Food Revolution program.
2. Lunch participation. Average lunch participation rates were compared for 2 months
before and after introduction of the Food Revolution menus. The average participation
rate was 75% during the 2 months of standard meals and decreased to 66% during the
2 months of Food Revolution meals (p <.001).
3. Milk Consumption. Average milk consumption rates were compared for 2 months before and after introduction of the Food Revolution
menus. Milk consumption averaged 632 units daily during the 2 months of standard lunch meals and 472 units daily during the Food
Revolution meals. This reflects a 25% decrease in milk consumption by students during the initial Food Revolution period.
4. Teacher perceptions. Teacher ratings of taste, appearance, and amount of food are provided in Figure 2. There were no significant
differences in their ratings for the standard and Food Revolution meals. However, teachers did perceive the Food Revolution meals
to be significantly more nutritious than the standard school meals (p< .001).

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