"If You Can Imagine It, You Can Achieve It!"

Fri 25 Jul 2014

Story by Jinny Van Oeffelt

I love being a part of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution! I have been an ambassador since December 2013, when I immediately started talking with our Public Health Services. I was amazed at their enthusiasm for my mission for Food Revolution and a brand new collaboration was born.

The Public Health Services told me that they were trying to encourage elementary schools to serve healthy lunches for the kids that stay at school during lunch. The problem of course is that there is too little budget and time to realize this. In addition, it has no real urgency and of course there are parents who feel that the school should not dictate what their children eat. So it's always a bit of a struggle; the will is there, but they just need a little help.

So, I went back to elementary school! I arrived early in the morning and the director rushed past me, shook my hand and smiled while talking on the phone. The janitor showed me to where the children would have lunch, an area to be used for preparations and cooking, as well as a lunch restaurant for 50 children.

We grabbed some tables and chairs, divided the veggies, chopping boards and knifes and around 10 o’clock the first group of children arrived. They washed their hands and I explained what we were going to do. They all took a vegetable and rinsed it. Then they all sat at the tables slicing and dicing the vegetables with a focused look on their little faces. Meanwhile I asked them what they were dicing and if they liked it.

Having seen Jamie on TV asking kids to name different vegetables I decided to copy him. I held up some celery and asked what it was. ‘Celery’, they shouted and my heart jumped with joy!

We had 3 different groups with kids helping me out with the cooking and it was great (besides the big mess)! They had fun preparing and helping. I even think I discovered a little chef!
Together we made carrot soup, vegetable soup and vegetable ‘snacks’ with a yoghurt dip with fresh herbs.

After the preparations were done and the soups were boiling away, we began with creating a restaurant - moving tables and setting them with brightly coloured cloths, soup bowls and cutlery. The vegetable snacks and dips were displayed on coloured trays and as a finishing touch we put a little vase and flower on each table.

At lunchtime the children came running in and I served every table with either carrot soup or vegetable soup. Before they start eating, I complimented them on their help making this lunch. They were so proud of themselves.

During lunch the teachers asked what vegetables they recognized in their lunch and there were surprisingly a lot of good answers!

To my surprise all pans where empty and all vegetables where finished. Did I mention that all children drank water?

After 45 minutes I could feel the children were getting restless. Their tummies were full and the sun was inviting them to come out to play. They muttered a quick ‘thank you’ as they ran outside.

In the rush I forgot to eat, but I feel satisfied. What a great initiative this is. I love spending my time this way!

About the author: Born and raised in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, I’ve moved to the outskirts of the city. I needed a little peace and quietness after surviving cancer. When I became myself again after my struggle I felt the need to be healthy. Just like Jamie Oliver I believe that it’s a human right for children to have easy access to healthy, tasty and real food. My mission is to encourage children to enjoy real food one school at a time. I love to see them taste different veggies and broaden their food horizons. My motto is: if you can imagine it, you can achieve it!


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