LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Los Angeles Unified School District officials are firing back after a TV chef publicly questioned the quality of food served to students.

LAUSD officials say that meals prepared for the district’s students are not only good, but also healthy, after TV chef Jamie Oliver’s show “Food Revolution” criticized its school lunch offerings during an episode that aired Tuesday night.

The district had refused to allow Oliver into its schools as part of the series.

On the show that aired Tuesday night, Oliver compared the meals served in LAUSD schools to “airplane food.”

(credit: CBS)

In response, the LAUSD invited the media into its Newman Nutrition Center, the district’s central kitchen facility, to sample the food and review its upcoming menu options.

“The food that we serve is healthy and nutritious and very good quality,” according to David Binkle, deputy director of the district’s food services.

The district is already planning menus for the 2011-12 school year, with entrees such as Salvadorian beef stew, chicken Tandoori, Asian pad Thai, California sushi roll and teriyaki beef and broccoli with brown rice.

Oliver was invited to be part of the district’s menu development, but district officials did not want his cameras there.

“I would say that his perspective is much different than my perspective,” the district’s Director of Food Services Dennis Barrett said.

The LAUSD serves more than 122 million student meals a year.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (34)
  1. tatytay says:

    if oliver doesnt like the food he should offer for free to prepared them

    1. mmg says:

      As a high school teacher in LAUSD, I can only say that my students REFUSE to eat the food everyday and would rather starve. They are very vocal about it. What does this tell you? I don’t care what the district says, if it doesn’t get eaten, something is wrong with the system. They charge a teacher $3.00 for the smallest portion and it is junk!

      1. CherokeePhoenix says:

        LAUSD here, too. Agree with what you wrote—I brown bag it everyday.

    2. klg1956 says:

      If he doesn’t like it? He’s trying to help the kids, but like a true “Liberal,” you have to throw the “Free” in there, right? Jealous because he has a job and gets paid? There should be an exit test that students have to pass to graduate so they don’t get to be idiot grown ups who see everything one way….no critical thinking skills!

  2. icecream says:

    Another great reason to fire everyone from the school board and replace them with honest, wise administrative members.

  3. Frank says:

    LAUSD should be disbanded. Smaller districts fare better because they spend more money on teachers instead of bureacrats. Has anyone been to the building in downtown? No wonder all the teachers are being fired. Not enough money to pay for them and a building full of people doing nothing for our children.

  4. Charfe Heegee says:

    Seeing the food just prepared at central facility is a far cry from the condition it is in after packaging, steaming, shipping, and nuking. LAUSD aren’t interested in better quality food.

  5. jimmy tombo says:

    How do you spell corruption? Jamie Olivers’ show focused light on the
    dark business of food for profit in the LAUSD. Industry selling our children down the
    river. Taste the food at private schools and tell me we are not being ripped off!

    1. Lim Poh Tuh says:

      Major Kudos to Jamie Oliver. He is the voice of reason in a time of food insanity. Obesity! Sugar is rotting all of us from the inside and that’s what we’re serving our children daily. Brovo Jamie. You deliver a message of change and it’s time. This is so simple and so necessary and we must help him succeed.

  6. riff riff McGee says:

    Jamie Oliver is doing all of us a massive favor and just showing us what can be done to save money both short term, taste and nutrition and long term health and impact on the health care system. Wake up people. Hamburgers and fries with pink slime and Coca Cola and chocolate milk.

  7. Mark says:

    IHeartless crooks living fat by stealing from schools that teach our children. Schools can’t afford proper staffing and classroom sizes are growing. Teachers have too many kids and cant give proper attention to their students. Students also are being served small meals with cheap food and recreation is suffering due to lack of staff and funding.
    We in turn begin to see the fruits of this corruption in violent kids acting out for attention. Performing drastic actions that will have all eyes on them. Very sad. And these very children are our future?? What does tomorrow hold ?? Criminals eat better than this every day!!! Come on people – parents – community – get involved in finding out the truth and lets throw some trash. Soon.

  8. Tucano Fulano says:

    No wonder schools’ quality is no good – mom and/or dad need to supply meals, NOT TAXPAYERS, and LET’S HAVE LEARNING IN SCHOOLS, NOT SUBSIDIZED

    1. moopoo says:

      i saw on the news yesterday one school in chcago where the principal refused to let kids bring lunches from home because she didnt think the kids were eating healthy. the school rule is ‘eat the school lunch or eat no lunch at all” i couldnt believe it!

  9. LAUSDstudent says:

    okay. I’m a student at LAUSD and I refused using free lunch tickets because the food is always just, bad. When my friends and I used to eat that, we would always get stomach problems and headaches so the doctors told our parents to stop feeding us school lunch. Most kids just don’t eat the district provided lunch because it tastes bad, looks bad, and it’s unhealthy. But LAUSD doesn’t do anything about it and still feeds us gross, under-cooked or over-cooked frozen packaged lunches. The peanut butter and jelly packets are the WORST.
    We always write letters and sign petitions about our food and many other things, but the district NEVER, not even ONCE, listened to our cries.

    1. James says:

      Hey, did you finish writing your essay yet? It’s due on Friday, before spring break.

      1. Mike says:

        Is it too far above your grade level to read?

  10. student says:

    the packaged vegetables taste like plastic

  11. francis says:

    YES, and what of All That LOTTO money we were told goes to the schools? People are on the dole here and students are suffering. No wonder they drop out and have poor grades; it’s directly attributable to what you eat being what you are.
    Clearly the foxes guarding the henhouse and no one will investigate because of all the money involved. Kudos and support to Jamie; if he Was NOT on to something, why would they have police set up ahead at the school he went to??

  12. GV says:

    I just saw the CBS 5 o’clock report on the LAUSD vs Jamie Oliver…I invite the middle -aged stuffed-shirt beaurucrat who has oversight over the foods in schools to (1) Have the various LAUSD menus tested against Olivers menus, by an independant lab.(2) Have this career politician and his family served the same caliber of food for 2 years at his home…and NO substitutions!. any reporter wanting to dig some interesting facts: I don’t have the source but I understand the California Prison Systems serve the inmates food on a higher level than to the children in public schools!! Yes, LAUSD is ‘complying’ with the MINIMUM grade as citerd by the Federal government…how about increasing the level …of course the children won’t riot like inmates will-School Board officicials are pansies…and by the way…Where is His Honor, the mayor when it comes to the children ???

  13. Idontwannagetfiredfrommyjob says:

    Im looking into our schools cafeteria and the is no pots , no spoon, no spices, just huge microwaves the cafeteria mangers dont even cook in the kitchen they just warm up the food that been drop off daily at 4pm it sucks because I work in the project and that the only food some of the students eat all day and it totally unhealthly,its looks nasty , it taste nasty and it smells gross, Damn!!! Can somebody help Jamie O.

  14. No Beach says:

    Another example of government telling people what to do. It is the responsibility of the kids and parents to make better choices and understand the consequences of their actions. With the school district allowing a TV Star to run the show is vindictive. I will not watch his show period. It’s always poor picked on blaming other things rather than accept reponsiblity. Shame on these officials. They have better things to be doing like helping kids succeed academically.

  15. Josh Butts says:

    Recently there is was a report on a school in Chicago that bans parents from sending lunch with their kids. Yes, you could not bring your lunch. You buy the school food or starve. The school claims that their food is more healthier than what the parents send. I hope LAUSD doesn’t ever do that. That’s BS!

  16. Cynthia Fluharty says:

    I have taught in the District and at my school since 1986, and I have seen the “quality” of food go downhill steadily over the years, to the point where even the hungriest of our students still can’t or won’t eat the food the District provides– come to our school and ask about the latest two items, the beef and red chili burrito on the whole-wheat tortilla– I had to throw it away, there is NO way that is a hand-made burrito with all that “paste” inside– and the Hawaiian meatballs. As one teacher put it, there is NO way the person who created that tasted it and said “this is good”. The District locks into long contracts with “chefs” and “food service providers” and someone, somewhere, is getting a mega-kickback.

  17. socalmal says:

    Public school cafeterias Do not cook anything anymore. It’s disgusting what they serve a captive/imprisoned audience! The whole system is in disrepair.

  18. Dr Smart says:

    Wow it amazes me how much people complain. One day the schools will stop
    serving free food to all students. One day we as parents will pay for our kids
    food, and then everyone is going to realize how good the food was. Think about….

  19. Sinic says:

    You know, REALLY, parents need to be responsible for packing their own lunches for their kids every day. Schools should not have to be responsible for feeding the kids every day. And yeah, it should be basic and simple like the good old days when I was a kid. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an apple, and some carrots ought to do it. The problem is that all these spoiled kids want to eat every day is candy, soda pop, pizza, and pop tarts. They don’t want to learn anything at school either. They just go to school every day because they want to get out of the house and be with their friends all day and text.

  20. Toni Ann says:

    just because they might be changing the menu items does not mean it is healthy for them. he is trying to get all us schools on board to offer a better variety of healthy foods.
    I say if it’s on his own time let him do it. Leading cause of obese adults is being an obese child, thus risking type 2 diabetes at an earlier age.

  21. W.W. says:

    I grew up going to a LAUSD school. The same lunches I had seen 20 years ago are still on the menu now.

    I say the board who approves the students’ breakfasts and lunches should have the same exact items served to them so that they know what the kids are eating.

  22. Bebe says:

    Jamie Oliver is exactly right and anyone standing in their way seems content to poison kids with the disgusting Monsanto swill they serve.

  23. Teenah says:

    I wish the people of the LAUSD would realise how lucky they truely are to have Jamie Oliver there. In many states school lunch is the only thing kids get to eat all day. WIth parents worrying about bills and unemployment around this country they know in the back of their minds that at school their children are quarenteed 2 meals a day and for some that’s all they get period. It would seem to me that the school district would want to be sure the children are eating healthy. Instead of hiding what is truely in their kitchen. I think they don’t want to be embarrased because they know how horrible ther food really is. Proper nutrition leads to a better attention span allowing children t learn and retain what they have learned better. I live in Florida and I wish Jamie would come here to help our districts in the panhandle. My daughter brought home her menu all year and the most common meal on there was different types of breaded chicken. Chicken rings, nuggets, fried chicken, chickenstrips, chicken patties etc…. all of it breaded and fried. I remember the first season of the show and I have never forgotten his demo of a chicken nugget. YUCK!!! Most of the food on the menu were either Pizza or Fried foods. And that Flavored milk thing. it’s horrible here. IF CA won’t keep him then send him to FL.

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