'This Week' Transcript: Crisis in the Classroom

OLIVER: Yes, I mean, look, basically, we went into a zone of London called Greenwich. We had basically about 37,000 meals a day to provide. And what we did, we had an independent survey done by Oxford University and Essex University. And it showed that the only reason that they could find within a five year period for a rise of about 16 percent in math and English and a downturn in, you know, illness and absenteeism, you know, the only reason they could find for this was the cultural change of food.

And nowadays, they have proven if you feed your children good food, you know, your brain, its ability to remember, its attainment is about 7 to 10 percent more efficient.

And that is why this new bill that's, you know, going through, you know, Capitol Hill at the moment, is so important.

AMANPOUR: You're following the Child Nutrition Act, which is working its way through Congress. What specifically are you looking for it to achieve?

OLIVER: This bill is probably one of the most important health pieces of work in the last 50 years in America. It can and it has the ability to save lives and certainly improve many. The cost, as of this February, you know, to -- of obesity to America is about $150 billion a year. The money that they're talking about supporting this bill is pathetic. It's completely irrelevant to the scale of the problem. $4.5 billion to be spent on this incredibly important bill over 10 years works out at seven cents per kid per day.

You know, so I think my big worry is cash. And what I mean by cash is cash to put proper food on the plate for American children and also to train the cooks of America to work in school -- and it's not just schools, as well. It's old people's homes. It's any civic catering at all.

AMANPOUR: And what did you find in the United States when you brought your -- your good dinners, your Jamie Oliver food revolution, to West Virginia?

It was designated, that particular town, by the CDC, as the most unhealthy in the country.

OLIVER: The tri-state area of West Virginia came up with some of the highest figures of heart disease, diabetes and diet-related deaths. It's not a glamorous thing. They're -- they're actually not the worst anymore. I think they're about number five now instead of number one, which is great news.

What we tried to do in the town was very simple. We -- we took over all of the schools in the area. We took them from processed food to fresh food and as much local food as we could get. We did it on budget. And we worked with all the school cooks.

We put a kitchen in the middle of town. And this is the biggest town, you know, in the tri-state area. And we offered free cooking lessons to anyone that wanted to come. And we're fully booked all the time. And we have people from seven years old to 85 years old coming in to learn to cook.

But what I found, really, was vulnerable people that didn't know or have the tools to make good choices to nourish themselves or their family. That -- that's generally what I found.

AMANPOUR: When you were here, you also went on "David Letterman." And he said this to you about the likelihood of success with this revolution over here in the United States.


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