Locals review "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution"
"Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" focuses on Oliver's efforts in Huntington in 2009 to promote healthier eating habits by encouraging food preparation from fresh ingredients. Those efforts were focused on local schools, families and a kitchen to teach people how to cook. Each week, we will have local residents weigh in on the episodes.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Amy Gannon on final episode

Amy Gannon is a registered dietitian who lives and practices in Charleston. She earned an undergraduate degree in human nutrition and foods from West Virginia University and completed a master’s degree and dietetic internship at Marshall University. In 2005, she earned a Certificate of Training in Pediatric and Adolescent Weight Management from the American Dietetic Association. She has been a consultant dietitian for the HealthyKids Weight Management Program at Charleston Area Medical Center for five years. She has experience in clinical dietetics, sales, community nutrition and higher education. She is currently serving as president of the W.Va. Dietetic Association and works as a youth specialist for WVU Extension Service- Family Nutrition Programs. In addition, Gannon is an adjunct professor for the Marshall University School of Medicine and owns a private consultative nutrition practice in Charleston.

General thoughts of finale?
It's obvious that there is still work to be done to make the city of Huntington and school meals healthier. I am happy that Jamie Oliver has worked so hard to help create change for the children in Cabell County schools. I was glad to see that Alice bought into the idea of less processed meals and is now working with other cooks to share her new expertise. However, schools are only one part of the obesity epidemic. I hope viewers realize that in order for Jamie's changes to be effective, changes will need to be made at home too.

Do you think the show accomplished anything?
I am happy that the show put a spotlight on the obesity epidemic. Most people are unaware of the seriousness of childhood obesity, or the staggering toll it can take on a child's health. I am also always surprised to learn that most parents are unaware of what their children are eating - both at school and at other social events. Cooking, meal preparation and shopping for food is just not a priority for many people. I feel like the show shed light on the importance of cooking meals at home and knowing what your children are eating for lunch every day.

Now that the show is over and the media coverage fades, will the community sustain the changes?
Various media sources have recently highlighted that the most difficult part of the sustaining the changes for Cabell county will be footing the bill for the new menu items. Rhonda and the Cabell County school system are really in a tough place. I'm sure they would like to continue serving fresher foods, but government regulations, lack of funding and dissatisfaction among students will make it hard to keep all of the changes. It was also disappointing to see students packing junk food in heir lunch boxes - candy, sweetened beverages and chips can't compare to Jamie's lunch or the regular school lunch either.

What wasn’t addressed in the entire show that you feel should have been talked about?
There were several things that I felt should have been addressed. While it is obvious that most school meals are overly processed, it is important to recognize that WV's nutrition standards are among the most progressive in the nation. Our state mandates that all schools in WV must serve breakfast every day. All but two counties have removed sales of soda from schools during the school day. WV schools require the use of more fresh fruit and vegetables and more whole grains than most other schools in the country. Although there is still work to be done, a lot of progress has already been made and this wasn't highlighted at all. In addition, the nutrient content of Jamie's meals often didn't meet the USDA standards either. I'm grateful that he showed the cooks how to prepare unprocessed foods, but I don't think his meals would be able to qualify for USDA funding over the long run.

Are you disappointed that the show didn’t feature Ritter Park or any of the 5K events we regularly do?
Of course this is disappointing. There is a lot of hard work being done in Huntington to combat obesity. The School of Medicine launched an obesity prevention program several years ago with school-aged children. The Department of Dietetics at Marshall has a nutrition education grant that is used to teach kids at schools across Cabell County about the importance of healthy foods and physical activity. And, on recent Sunday afternoon visit to Ritter Park, I saw hundreds of people jogging, walking, biking and playing for hours on end. I think it would have been beneficial to see what is already happening and connect Jamie's work with some of these programs.