'Idiot' junk-food parents feel the wrath of Jamie

TV chef Oliver accuses adults of sabotaging healthy eating crusade

Lauren Veevers,Anthony Barnes
Sunday 17 September 2006 00:00
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Jamie Oliver last night vented his anger at parents who wilfully ignore and even "sabotage" his healthy eating manifesto.

The TV chef-turned-nutrition campaigner has convinced the Government and schools to revamp children's menus, but there has been continuing resistance from some parents.

The latest evidence of a backlash came on Friday when two mothers from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, collected fast food orders and made deliveries at the gates of a school. They claimed Oliver's regime made kids too picky. Julie Critchlow, one of the mums, said: "Food is cheaper and better at local takeaways."

In a one-off programme, Return to Jamie's School Dinners, to be screened on Channel Four tomorrow night, Oliver rants about how parents are "arseholes" and "tossers" for giving their children fizzy drinks and crisps. His fury was prompted by an off-screen exchange with a mother he met during filming who was giving her one-year-old child Coca-Cola and said she would not make shepherd's pie because it was "too posh".

Many children around the UK are turning away from hot dinners. Figures from the School Food Trust show the number of children who had school dinners last year has dropped by 5.8 per cent in primary schools and 4.9 per cent in secondary schools.

A spokesman for Oliver said he had come up against parents who gave their children nothing but crisps, chocolate and fizzy drinks for lunch, never cooked from scratch and had never given their children fruit.

"All of these things made him angry," the spokesman said. "That's why he wants to see all kids having a nutritious hot school meal... even if they're eating rubbish when they get home."

At Thomas Tallis school in Greenwich, south-east London, Oliver ordered a junk food amnesty and the pupils, grudgingly, gave up their junk food in return for a burger bar where they could get salads and freshly cooked burgers.

The burger bar has been successful. Takings for meals at the school reached £4,000 in the first three days of this term - compared with around £2,400 in the first three days of last term.

However, research commissioned by Tesco revealed last week that more than two million children skip school dinners and use the money to buy junk food. One in four aged four to 16 preferred to have chips for lunch, and 14 per cent admitted binning fruit.

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