Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 15:10 UK

Jamie Oliver to spend own millions on school meals

By Liam Allen
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Jamie Oliver
Oliver's US campaign, Jamie's Food Revolution, is showing on ABC

Jamie Oliver plans to spend millions of pounds of his own money over 10 years to improve food education and meals in UK primary schools, he has revealed.

Individual schools could bid for "literally hundreds of thousands of pounds" to take measures including building gardens and new kitchens.

He said he wanted to "touch 1,000" of the UK's 20,000-plus primary schools.

Although plans were at an early stage, he hoped the scheme would provide a model for government policy.

Last month, a study by Oxford University and Essex University found that Oliver's campaign for healthy school dinners had boosted pupils' test results.

He started his Feed Me Better Campaign in 2005 because he was appalled by the junk food being served at many schools in England.

Aggressive approach

He told the BBC he hoped his new scheme would tackle childhood obesity in "the most unhealthy country in Europe" which had "the first generation of kids expected to live a shorter life than their parents".

Oliver, 34, was speaking after it was reported that he will appear in 22nd place on the Times Giving List, which estimates he has given £2.7m to charity.

His Fifteen restaurants support a charitable foundation which funds chef apprenticeships for disadvantaged young people.

We'll say to government, 'now we've proved it - just do it'
Jamie Oliver

"Probably what I am going to do over the next 10 to 15 years is literally have a percentage of profits from every single company that I have which hives cash down."

The pot of money would be used to create "a mechanism of food that the schools can bid for".

"If, in terms of parents and teachers, they can put all their ducks in a row then literally hundreds of thousands of pounds will be spent on that school.

"It will build gardens, build school kitchens, give them seeds and fruit trees as well as teaching collateral including web sites, DVDs and conferences."

'Tangible change'

Mentors provided by Oliver would help to provide full food education support, he said.

Oliver, who has made a new Channel 4 series Jamie Does and written an accompanying book, said he hoped to start off with 20 to 40 schools a year, building to between 80 and 100".

He hoped eventually to introduce the project to 1,000, or about 5%, of primary schools, he said.

Jamie Oliver
Oliver faced resistance in his original campaign from parents and children

"It only takes 2% to change anything," he added.

"We'll use that private, entrepreneurial, idea - that is obsessed by relevance and making a true, real tangible change to children and their parents - to then come up with a model.

"And we'll say to government, 'now I've proved it - let's do it'."

He added: "It'll work, just give me 10 years."

In March, researchers reported that primary pupils in Greenwich, London, who took part in the Feed Me Better scheme, achieved better results than those in neighbouring boroughs and were less likely to be off sick from school.

Schools replaced junk food and processed dinners high in fat, salt and sugar, with healthy school lunches.

Another Oliver TV show, Jamie's Food Revolution - based on a similar campaign on the other side of the Atlantic - is currently being shown in the US on ABC.

Print Sponsor

Oliver campaign 'raised results'
29 Mar 10 |  Education
TV chef Oliver returns to school
21 Apr 04 |  TV and Radio
Blair supports TV chef's campaign
20 Mar 05 |  Education

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific