Next Friday is Food Revolution Day. The Jamie Oliver Foundation came up with the idea a few years ago and its main goal is to have children from all over the world partake in meals that have been designed around chef Oliver's nutritional recipes.
The foundation has long tentacles around the globe and has corporate support from many large multi-nationals. A resonating theme within the foundation is to reduce the amount of exposure to sugar in a typical western child's diet and to reduce the alarming and growing rate of childhood obesity.
Recently, and after much lobbying, the foundation achieved a milestone in British parliament. In 2018 a "sugary tax bill" will be introduced in the United Kingdom. The tax is expected to raise close to a billion dollars which would go back in to the school system to promote nutritional health and education about food and cooking within the school environment.
The idea of a sugar tax has been bandied about in various North American jurisdictions for quite a while and it is time that governments sharpened their pencils and took a look at how the benefits of such a tax could take pressure off our medical system.
Dietary life lessons are best learned at home, but increasingly, the school environment is playing a key role in providing access to knowledge about food and good eating habits.
In the United States and in Great Britain, school cafeterias are common place and have been the distribution point for many national nutritional health plans. More often than not though, many inner city schools that have good intentions in these settings, lose out on the home front when good eating strategies bow to socio-economic realities. This is where the price/quantity boondoggle raises its ugly head. Left with little choice, some families have to resort to the couple of litres of $1 pop and some $5 dollar frozen pizza for the dinner table.
This path to poor food choice is not just price driven. Working parents are taxed for time and energy and sometimes convenience trumps common sense. Imagine how these circumstances subliminally impact our kids and imagine how they will affect choices for their families in the future. To break away from this unfortunate cycle, parents, educators, school districts and governments have to do a better job of promoting nutritional health frameworks to steer children in the right direction.
In the grand scheme of things, we are lucky here in Delta in that our school district is supporting programs related to nutritional health.
By next week, and to celebrate Food Revolution Day, hundreds of local young farmers will have planted over 1,000 cucumber seeds. Meanwhile, they have been snacking on salads with veggies they have grown, are growing, and will be growing over the coming weeks. We have been calling these sessions tailgate parties as the salads are dished out from the back of my truck. A recent session at a local school was both delightful and disturbing.
A couple dozen kids chowed their fruits and veggies but there were several of them who clearly needed food. They were hungry. I'm talking real hunger. If you have school aged children, let's make an effort to appreciate what they need next week and always.
Mike Schneider is founder of Project Pickle and likes to write about growing, cooking and eating food. He was named as a Jamie Oliver Food Revolution ambassador.