Coming Back Around on Cabell County School Lunches: Credit Where It’s Due!

Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" program made quite a splash for its portrayal of the school lunches in the 'fattest city in America' — Huntington, WV — on national television last year.  But as is so often the case, Jamie's 'revolutionary' story was hardly the whole tale.  Jane Black tells the real story on Grist, in "The Triumph of Jamie Oliver's 'nemesis'":

School officials repeatedly point out that the county's food already was 50 percent made from scratch before Oliver rolled into town. And you can't blame them for wanting a little credit. The culinary crusader may have focused the national klieg lights on this otherwise quiet Appalachian city, but it's local officials that have done the real work of overhauling school food. Over the last two years, Rhonda McCoy — the school food service director who was portrayed on the show as an aloof bureaucrat more concerned with budgets and caloric counts than kids' health — has redeveloped recipes, held after-hours taste tests, sourced fresh and unprocessed ingredients at affordable prices, bought new equipment and trained school cooks. She also endured an unprecedented four regulatory audits to ensure that the new meals met federal nutritional and caloric standards. She passed.

We know it makes better ratings for a national audience to be shocked at the deplorable pizza-breakfasts of Appalachian schools, but it'd be great if Rhonda McCoy and her staff were congratulated for their significant progress with the same degree of attention!

It's not much, but we're proud of the model Cabell County has set for from-scratch school lunches, and thrilled to see the approach spreading.

Read more about the progress being made in West Virginia school kitchens in Black's full article.

Kristin Tracz

About Kristin Tracz

Kristin Tracz served MACED’s Research and Policy team from 2009-2012 working on clean energy policy, energy efficiency programs and the Appalachian Transition Initiative. She joined MACED after finishing her Master of Environmental Management degree at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She now lives and works in Washington, DC.