If you tuned into Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC this spring, you may have gotten an unfortunate glimpse of my hometown. Huntington, WV was listed by the CDC as the unhealthiest town in the country and Jamie Oliver selected the town as the place to begin his Food Revolution in the United States. His goal was to introduce healthier eating habits into an area of the country that desperately needed to change its eating habits. Huntington residents have many typical American eating habits that contribute to obesity, heart disease and diabetes, such as high calorie, high sugar, and high saturated fat diets.
(stock photo by sykospike)
One of the most horrifying parts of the show, in my opinion, was the state of the school lunches. I grew up in Huntington, and I don’t remember the school lunches looking anything what they’ve become. I remember fruit and salad regularly being part of the menu. Pizza was a rare treat. However, budget cuts and an overwhelmed infrastructure have resulted in a lunch and breakfast program that is hardly ideal. Children were gleefully consuming foods that would horrify many parents. They were eating pizza for breakfast and lunch, overly processed meats, French fries, and very little fresh fruits and vegetables. Their drinks were overly sugared, flavored milks.
The scary part is that the school lunches in West Virginia aren’t an anomaly. Those lunches meet current USDA standards for school lunches. As Jamie Oliver and others have pointed out, the nationwide school lunch system is broken and our kids aren’t getting the nutrition they need. According to