The British celebrity chef's comments have earned him the nickname the "Scrooge of schools."

Elisabeth Sherman
October 23, 2017

When you’re a kid, you don’t realize how necessary school is. It just seems boring. There’s very little to look forward to—recess, obviously, and when they’re older, football games, and on really good days, bake sales. Mom or dad makes brownies or a pie, and the kids get to know the parents who bring in the best baked goods, everything from gooey Rice Krispy treats, to chewy chocolate chip cookies, and cupcakes that are mostly frosting. Vague reminders from the dentist that too many sweets cause cavities chime momentarily in their ears, but the warnings of adults are useless at a bake sale. Enter celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who wants to put an end to all that.

The chef is a well-known proponent of healthy eating for children, to be fair. Jamie’s Food Revolution, his non-profit organization, wants to bring nutritious food to all school children, in the hopes of ending—or at least drastically reducing—childhood obesity. This is, undoubtedly, an important and necessary mission. As part of that effort, the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation recently released a report on the state of school meals.

“The culture of high fat and sugary foods used as rewards, in fundraising, and in celebrations, is creating social and physical environments that contradict children’s food education,” the report read, according to the Evening Standard.

According to the report, around 86 percent of schools in England still hold bake sales; the Foundation called for an end to the practice, citing one school that used doughnuts as a reward for students who had never missed class, and recommended that schools become “healthy zones,” where students are encouraged to pursue their overall wellbeing.

Unsurprisingly, Oliver received backlash on social media for the report—which in fairness was written to encourage children to be healthier. There’s no harm in that. Most of his accusers, however, took him to task for blaming a couple doughnuts here and a few brownies there for obesity everywhere. One Twitter user even called the chef the “Scrooge of schools,” which seems a little harsh. And while it does seem cruel to take away an event that both earns schools money and that kids look forward to, surely schools can come up with other ways to raise money while making sure children learn to eat nutritious food? Point taken that bake sales aren’t the only reason for the obesity epidemic (both in this country and in England), but maybe we should hear Oliver out. He’s only trying to help.