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Celebrated Chef Jamie Oliver Visits Sacramento Area School, Focuses On Healthy Lunch Choices, Impact of Food Literacy

Sacramento, CA – On January 7, celebrated Chef Jamie Oliver joined students from Pacific Elementary School to explore the importance of healthy lunch choices and food literacy.

Several students who participate in the Food Literacy Center program at Pacific Elementary School led a cooking demonstration for Mr. Oliver, exhibiting their newfound insights on healthy dining. Chefs Ann Cooper and Alice Waters, food truth and education in school champions, joined Jamie and the students for lunch.

California schools serve 810 million meals a year. Each meal is a chance not just to fuel students as they prepare to learn, but an opportunity to develop healthy habits. Here in Sacramento, the Sacramento City Unified School District is working to teach students about healthier choices. Local lunch standards are much higher than those mandated by the United States Department of Agriculture. The health literacy classes build on daily healthy and nutritious lunches, as well as cultivate an interest in good-for-you food. 

“Our cafeterias serve more than 30,000 meals a day,” says Sacramento City Unified Superintendent José L. Banda. “Many students eat both breakfast and lunch at school. As such, we have a tremendous responsibility to ensure kids are eating healthy food and learning how to live a healthy lifestyle. If we’re successful, we will make a difference in the long-term health and longevity of the next generation.”

Food education in the classroom is the first step towards creating a new culture where California’s children are empowered to make the healthiest choices for their future. Parents and educators are not the only ones who should know what students are eating.

Today’s event marked the launch of a new coalition formed by chefs Oliver, Waters, and Cooper calling for food education for all children.

Children’s understanding of where food comes from and how it impacts their health, environment and community is crucial in leading our children on a pathway towards a healthy life. Today’s lunch featured vegetables and fruits from the school’s garden and orchard – all a part of expanding food literacy early in these student’s lives.

“These kids show the power of learning about your food. They’ll carry a lifetime of choosing healthier options because they now understand what is in their food,” said Jamie Oliver. “It is amazing to see these kids so excited about cooking and what they are putting into their little bodies.”

By empowering children to know what they are eating, the state can combat preventable diseases like diabetes and obesity. With more than 6 million children going to school every day in California, schools are the prime place for children to not just learn about math and history, but also learn about healthy choices.

Healthy choices go beyond choosing fresh and nutritious food.  Today’s school visit, cooking demonstration, and tour of the school’s garden and orchard follow Mr. Oliver’s morning meetings with state policy makers about accessible clean drinking water. At a morning press conference, Mr. Oliver announced a new initiative by The California Endowment to install over 120 water filtration distribution stations – water taps – in communities and schools in California. Part of this initiative challenges Californians to help complete the job throughout the state with a crowdfunding campaign.

“Consuming sugary junk drinks like soda will continue to derail the health of our state’s children. Until we provide students with healthy alternatives and empower them to invest in their health, we can’t expect them to succeed in the classroom either,” said Daniel Zingale, senior vice president of Healthy California at The California Endowment. “Let’s invest in our future by providing kids healthy choices at every opportunity.“

Over 4,000 California schools – 40 percent – do not provide water during the most important time of the day – mealtime. Without clean drinking water, students are forced to turn to unhealthy sugar junk drinks. 

Daniel Zingale notes that “These water taps are a great first step, but they are only a temporary solution. California needs to come together to create a system where all of our children have access to clean drinking water.”

With more than 12 percent of the United States’ students in California, the state has the opportunity to lead the nation in creating a better future for the next generation. Building a culture of healthy eating and food literacy provides a solid foundation for a healthy California.  

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About Jamie Oliver Food Foundation
The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation (JOFF) is a California-based non-profit public-benefit corporation, 501(c)(3). The Food Foundation works to bring food education to schools and youth groups, businesses and communities. It does this by raising awareness in the media to galvanize policy changes at a local and national level, offering hands-on training to instill food skills and knowledge, and founding partnerships to enable to scale nationally.

About The California Endowment
The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental affordable improvements in the health status of all Californians. Headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, The Endowment has regional offices in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno and San Diego, with program staff working throughout the state. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people's health. Through its ‘Health Happens Here’ campaign and ten-year initiative for Building Healthy Communities, The Endowment is creating places where children are healthy, safe and ready to learn. At its core, The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention. For more information, visit The California Endowment’s homepage at

About Sacramento City Unified School District
Established in 1854, the Sacramento City Unified School District serves 44,000 students on 75 campuses located throughout the Capitol’s urban core.  SCUSD is a leader in focusing on the nutritional needs of children and in bringing the farm-to-fork movement to inner-city cafeterias. Every school has a salad bar stocked daily with fruits and vegetables and more than 40 schools have gardens that produce fresh snacks for children. Through SCUSD’s innovative Project Green, student teams conduct sustainability audits on campuses and vie annually for $1 million in bond funding to make campus healthier places to learn. For more information, visit

About The Chef Ann Foundation
The Chef Ann Foundation was founded in 2009 by Ann Cooper, an internationally recognized author, chef, educator, public speaker, and advocate of healthy food for all children. To-date the Foundation has reached over 1,812,185 children across the country, providing tools that help schools serve children healthy and delicious scratch-cooked meals made with fresh, whole food. As a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, the Chef Ann Foundation is grateful to their generous supporters and friends who help them carry out this mission.

About The Edible Schoolyard Project
The mission of the Edible Schoolyard Project is to build and share an edible education curriculum for kindergarten through high school. Our vision is for gardens and kitchens to become interactive classrooms for academic subjects, and for every student to have a free, nutritious, organic lunch. If this program is integrated into schools, the curriculum could transform the health and values of every child in America.