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Jamie Oliver passes responsibility of revolution to community in finale

Apr. 24, 2010 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- On Friday night, Huntington's primetime view ended at 10 p.m. with a mix of celebrities and regular folk saying they were on board with the food revolution Jamie Oliver started in West Virginia.

But the finale of "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" isn't exactly the happy ending producers likely had intended.

The finale includes clips of the 3rd Avenue food festival held in November, highlighted by a free concert from Rascal Flatts. That could have been the end of the story. But then the show flew Central City Elementary principal Patrick O'Neal and Pastor Steve Willis of First Baptist Church of Kenova to Washington, D.C., for a meeting with first lady Michelle Obama. A last-minute scheduling conflict canceled that meeting.

About midway through the episode, the show features The Herald-Dispatch story about Cabell County Schools having a stockpile of processed foods that it plans to serve on Fridays through April.

The report sure had Oliver fired up on the finale.

Before the fireworks, though, the show wraps up filming in Huntington in November. Oliver is heading to the food festival, but he rolls through a red light and gets pulled over by a Huntington Police officer. The scene provides a nice laugh and a warning for Oliver.

At the food festival -- attended by Central City teacher Trish Blake, O'Neal, the Edwards family from Kenova, Central City cooks and food service director Rhonda McCoy -- Oliver gets the financial support he needs to provide all the school cooks with training. Doug Sheils, director of Marketing and Public Relations for Cabell Huntington Hospital, presents Oliver with a check for $80,000. Then he surprises Oliver with a second check for $50,000 to support Jamie's Kitchen, which is unveiled as Huntington's Kitchen.

Then Rascal Flatts plays a free concert from inside the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center that also is shown on a large screen on 3rd Avenue.

Then we find out what Oliver was up to between the time filming wrapped up until its debut on March 21. He appears on "Oprah," "Larry King Live," "The Late Show with David Letterman," "Rachael Ray" and many other shows to talk about his time in Huntington and the progress he made there. Then, The Herald-Dispatch article brings Oliver back to find out what has happened since he left.

McCoy shows Oliver the freezer and explains the dilemma of already placing the order for the 2010-2011 school year with processed foods included. The essence of the discussion and his conclusion is that the USDA doesn't make it easy for a school system to serve fresh, healthy meals.

Oliver then visits Central City, where the number of lunches served took a dip in December and January but has rebounded since.

But his main concern is the number of kids bringing food from home. One girl has two bags of chips and a bag of jellybeans, while another has a baggie of chicken nuggets. One parent even delivered McDonald's to a student. O'Neal tells Oliver that there are government regulations for what is served to the children from the kitchen, but nothing about what parents can put in a lunchbox.

Then, Oliver goes to Huntington's Kitchen to devise a plan and comes with the idea of a boot camp for school cooks, children and parents. But he says to pull it off, he's going to need help from Alice Gue and her Central City kitchen colleagues. So Gue, Polly Midkiff and Milly Bailey agree to help him get other schools in the county on board and encourage administrators, teachers and cooks to attend the boot camp, held Tuesday, April 13, on the parking lot of Willis' Kenova church.

In a private moment with Oliver and Gue, he apologizes for the all the hate mail she has received since the show started airing.

He and the cooks also visit Rod Willis at 93.7 The DAWG to catch up and encourage attendance at the boot camp.

Before the boot camp kicks off, there are clips of Oliver and Willis' initial meeting in the fall showing the new building with nothing inside. Willis shares his heart about having a kitchen and basketball court. Oliver helps with fundraising efforts and gets the kitchen and ball court done.

Then Oliver is shown speaking to the crowd of a couple hundred at each of the three tents, including one for parents, teachers and cooks.

Then Oliver talks with Superintendent William Smith and McCoy about finding ways to keep the processed food out and getting fresh ingredients for the cooks.

Oliver says it's not the happy ending he hoped for and likely would have to meet with USDA officials on his own to find a compromise for Cabell County and other school systems that want to be a part of the food revolution.

"Huntington has really become a shining hope for change," Oliver says. "Yes, it's a TV show, but it's real life."

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