Summary of Revenge of the Lunch Lady

How an unassuming bureaucrat outsmarted Jamie Oliver and pulled off an honest-to-God miracle in one of America’s unhealthiest cities.

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Revenge of the Lunch Lady summary
When Jamie Oliver let America’s least healthy city down, a local administrator stepped up.


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When America’s unhealthiest city got the Jamie Oliver treatment in 2009, local people resented the foreigner’s intrusion. Oliver’s fresh, homemade food was too expensive, and the children didn’t like it. The British celebrity chef’s approach failed, but county food-service director Rhonda McCoy didn't give up on trying to create fresh, tasty food within her budget. Food writer Jane Black weaves her portrayal of McCoy as a passionate and practical, almost saintly administrator into this eye-opening account of the troubled history of the US National School Lunch Program. getAbstract recommends this article to parents of children who eat lunch at school and anyone interested in nutrition.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the US National School Lunch Program has evolved since its creation and
  • How one woman changed school lunches for the better in America’s unhealthiest city.


In 1946, the US Congress approved the National School Lunch Program to feed children. Apart from making them fit for future wars, Congress designed the program in a way that helped farmers dispose of excess grain, dairy and meat. When 50-odd years later, the government expressed concerns about the fat content, schools couldn’t reduce it because of the ingredients they had to use. Potato, pizza and soft-drink lobby groups opposed attempts to reduce starches and sugars. Various administrations cut subsidies over the years, but the Community Eligibility Provision, an unbureaucratic approach to provide students in the lowest socioeconomic areas with free lunches, has been left in place.

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About the Author

Jane Black is a food writer who covers food politics, trends and sustainability issues for a variety of publications.

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