Rachael Ray & Jamie Oliver Add Star Power to Push for Healthy School Lunches

December 07, 2009

By Amanda Chablani, HSC Policy Specialist

In the past few years, we’ve seen several chefs and food writers talking about health, the environment,
and national food policy. Most notably, Alice Waters, of Berkeley’s
Chez Panisse and the exciting
Edible
Schoolyard
, has for years
been outspoken about the availability of local sustainable farming.
Michael Pollan’s
Omnivore’s
Dilemma
spent an unprecedented
number of weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list and received
a 2007 James Beard Award. And just last year,
Mark Bittman, the New York Times food writer, published Food Matters, a book he describes as exploring “the links
among global warming and other environmental challenges, obesity and
the so-called lifestyle diseases, and the overproduction and overconsumption
of meat, simple carbohydrates, and junk food.” (For an excellent discussion
on food policy with Bittman, check
this out).  

But from what I can tell, until now,
there hasn’t been a whole lot of interest in food policy from broadcast
media, so I was happy to see this news story about Rachael Ray, the
woman who made EVOO a household acronym, working to improve school food.  
 

I love how Rachael brings attention back
to the powerful message that providing good nutrition to kids is a preventative
health strategy and should be part of the national health care debate.
And, as the kids of P.S. 89 make clear, healthy school food can be delicious!
 

The New York Public School District had been
successfully working to improve their school food before Rachael came
along, as Rachael explains:

“With the small amount of money they have
to spend, they’ve made such great strides. And I think this will really
help with the obesity rates — if we can get great nutrition into every
public school coast to coast, for breakfast and lunch, that’s going
to make a dent in it.”
 

By lending her star power to the issue,
Rachael brings attention at a vital moment in the policy debate around
the reauthorization of the
Child
Nutrition Act
 

And she’s not the only one! 

Jamie Oliver is bringing his cooking
skills, and the nation’s attention, to the school lunch offering in
Huntington, West Virginia on his upcoming show Jamie Oliver’s Food
Revolution
. On this side of the Atlantic, Jamie is known for his
successful cooking show The Naked Chef, but on the other side
of the pond he’s just as famous for his philanthropic work and his
four-part special
Jamie’s
School Dinners
that exposed,
and attempted to improve, the state of school lunch in England. At least
in part because of his efforts, the British government invested more
than a billion dollars in
improving
school lunch
nationally. 

These celebrity chefs are doing a great
job raising awareness of this important issue, and while we think it
is especially important for you to
raise
your voices
in support of
healthy school food, we are glad to see Rachael Ray and Jamie Oliver
getting involved, too.