As celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and his ABC Television production crew wrapped up the filming of their reality television show Saturday, Cabell Huntington Hospital announced the donation of $80,000 to fund the expansion of Oliver's healthy food program to all 28 Cabell County public schools. Cabell Huntington Hospital's donation will enable Sustainable Food Systems, LLC, to work with each public school in Cabell County to change all menus, train all school cooks, substantially remove processed foods and improve the availability of locally grown and nutritious ingredients. The food program was initiated at Central City Elementary School and will be featured in Oliver's upcoming television series, "Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution."
"Cabell Huntington Hospital is delighted to partner with Cabell County Schools, Jamie Oliver and Sustainable Food Systems to bring positive, sustainable changes to the lunch menus of all 28 public schools in Cabell County," said Brent A. Marsteller, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cabell Huntington Hospital. "We are excited about the potential of these changes to improve the health of our children, and we are hopeful that this effort will eventually enable Cabell County Schools to serve as a role model for school systems throughout the country."
Oliver said the hospital's role in the expansion will have a profound impact.
"To get Cabell Huntington Hospital's support here is an epic moment in the school food revolution," Oliver said. "This is the perfect outreach for any big, local hospital. I want Huntington to be a shining example and I really dream that in the next two to three years, every school is changed."
Cabell County Schools provided Oliver's television crew and chef consultants with Sustainable Food Systems access to Central City Elementary School and Huntington High School to search for and implement ways to provide students with healthier meal options without increasing costs. By expanding the program, more students will now benefit from the food revolution sparked by Oliver's television show.
"We have already found great success working in partnership with Cabell Huntington Hospital on wellness efforts in our school system," says William A. Smith, Superintendent of Cabell County Schools. "With Cabell Huntington's support of this project, I believe we are taking an important step toward making our high-quality food service program a premier model for food programs not only here in West Virginia, but also across the nation."
Sustainable Food Systems, LLC, is a unique consulting and technical assistance company that helps organizations and institutions consider and implement nutritional, social, ecological and delicious modifications to their current food service delivery.
"Our organization has worked throughout the U.S. and has heard a lot of talk about improving school food," said John Turenne, President and Founder of Sustainable Food Systems, LLC. "The difference we have seen here in Cabell County and West Virginia is a top-down commitment to take action in order to actually make those changes. Let's face it; the current state of affairs in the national school lunch program has evolved over decades to get to where it is now. It needs to be improved and will take time. However, we believe that with the support and commitment here in Huntington and from the state capitol, we are poised to show others how to begin. We've created a model in two schools and will roll it out to all 28 by the end of school in June."