Oh, reality TV. Amid countless stunts and larger-than-life characters, it's so easy to forget the reality part -- but last week, the LAUSD school district voted (for real) to ban flavored milk. That means no more chocolate milk, no more strawberry milk. The 5-2 vote by board members was seen as a way to help curb childhood obesity.
The issue was just one of the school lunch platforms chef Jamie Oliver has been pursuing on Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.
OK, now on to the show...
In the latest episode, Jamie speaks at a conference full of lunch cooks. He takes questions from the audience that range from "Do you think healthy eating habits can be legislated?" to "What makes you uniquely qualified to advise us here?" Ouch! Jamie answers (he does think kids need a bit of nannying) and also entreats the workers to help him get into a school cafeteria.
Jamie also revisits the Barrett family to see how they've gotten along since vowing to eliminate fast food from their diet. When he enters their house -- the same place he filled up with a year's supply of fast food in a previous episode -- it is full of fresh fruit and vegetables. Turns out those Barretts are jokers and pulled one on him.
"That's proper," Jamie says when he heads to the kitchen and looks over the veggie skewers father and son have been cooking. Single father Denny Barrett says, "I've got it all back." He had wanted his kids to have a time and place to talk to him the way he did growing up, and now their regular sit-down dinnertime is just that spot.
Though Jamie vents about being frustrated by a "clearly untransparent system" -- all his taping permits have been revoked from LAUSD, including those at West Adams -- there are still bright spots in the episode. The American Heart Association helps him move his kitchen to a location walking distance from West Adams High School. There, he'll offer classes to students and to the community. Also, actress Jamie Lee Curtis hands him a public health award at a UCLA School of Public Health reception. Jamie begins his acceptance speech by saying, "This year, I haven't earned this yet." He tells the audience that this has been "the worst month professionally of my whole career."
And yet, he still has one more day of legal filming at West Adams and is making the most of it. Through a loophole (called advisory!), he is finally able to address the entire school and offer them food that his culinary arts class has prepared. "I'm not leaving; I'm moving, " Jamie says as he shares the news of the community kitchen he is opening near the school. He tells his students that they are "properly my angels" and that he hasn't given up on them.
Jamie also organizes a trip for West Adams' school officials to a Santa Barbara school that runs its school lunch program independently from the school district. (Kind of a *hint, hint* field trip.) The school grows a lot of its own food through gardens and is able to make it affordable even though 70 percent of its student population receives free or reduced school lunches.
The show attempts a cliffhanger as we see a switch in school board presidents in the last moments of the episode. Gone is Ramon Cortines, who spoke publicly about how Jamie's reality show was turning the school district into a stage. Jamie, though clearly weighed down by the "come in and work with us but leave your cameras behind" approach, talks about how there may be a fresh start with the new superintendent, Dr. John Deasy.
(Of course we know that there is a fresh start; we read the news! But it'll still be fun to see exactly how Jamie's revolution unfolds...)
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