A handful of teenagers at a south-east London school have rebelled against a scheme masterminded by Jamie Oliver to encourage them to eat healthier school meals.
Since April, Oliver and his team have revolutionised the food served at Kidbrooke Secondary School in the London borough of Greenwich.
|Oliver: trying to break the "everything covered in breadcrumbs" culture
Out have gone processed meals and frozen vegetables. Instead, pupils now tuck into freshly prepared dishes that include slow-cooked balsamic beef with mushrooms and creamy mash, fish in creamy curried coconut sauce, and roast loin of pork with thyme-and-red-onion gravy and creamy mash.
But some of the older pupils still hanker after burgers, chicken wings and chips. "We're trying to break the whole culture of processed, packaged food, with everything covered in breadcrumbs and served as smiley faces or other funny shapes that have nothing to do with food," said Simon Owen, whom Oliver has left in charge of the school's in-house catering team.
He said the take-up had been excellent, especially among the more adaptable younger pupils. Older teenagers, he added, tended to stick to foods they were familiar with at home, such as stir-fries and noodles.
Although main meals are served with fresh vegetables or salads, fresh pur‚ed vegetables are also cunningly hidden in basic sauces for casseroles, stews and pizza toppings.
Owen said that changing the children's attitudes was a long-term process. The council intends to roll out the menu to all 50 schools in the borough. This, said Owen, would make the menu more familiar to the next generation of secondary school pupils.
Assistant head Bob Hope added that the project had also brought about "a revolution in manpower and hours" which required retraining the in-house catering team.
The food cost of a £1.30 or £1 main meal is set at 48p and 37p respectively.
Oliver's efforts at Kidbrooke, and a school in the North of England, will be televised by Channel 4 in February.
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 25 November 2004