April 20th, 2011
By: Jason Hughes
Last season, ‘Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution’ (Tue., 8PM ET on ABC) went to Huntington, W.V., one of America’s unhealthiest cities. This year, he was off to one of its largest. Once there, he met resistance at just about every corner.
The Los Angeles Unified School District — the second largest in the U.S., serving between 700,000 and 750,000 students — refused him access to their schools. None of the national fast food chains that got their start in L.A. were willing to work with him. He did get a smaller local chain to open their doors, but the owner was reluctant to make expensive changes.
In an attempt to shock them, he decided to turn his attention to the flavored milk available in the school. While the perception is that this is a healthier alternative, it actually contains as much sugar as soda. So he set up a dramatic demonstration.
He dumped a week’s worth of sugar onto and into a school bus. Unfortunately, only about 25 people showed up for the presentation, but a revolution can start with just a few.
“Yeah, I’m trying to make it dramatic because I want people to care, and at the moment it’s just us,” he said to the crowd. The lack of concern in the area was very disconcerting to him in this premiere episode, but he’s not done fighting for the kids and people of Los Angeles.
September 1, 2010
In a bid to set parents’ nerves at ease, a southwest suburban school district has become one of the first in the state to begin using GPS to track schoolchildren riding buses to and from school each day.
Palos Heights School District 128 had previously been using ZPass, a GPS technology provided by Seattle-based Zonar Systems, to track the buses. But now the district is outfitting students’ backpacks with a luggage tag-sized unit that logs when the student steps on and off the bus.
“A little piece of mind helps you get through the day,” says Ann O’Brien, a mother of four children in Palos Heights School District 128. “They can locate kid and bus in seconds.”
O’Brien says as she watched her children board and exit school busses today, with the new ZPass cards attached to their backpacks.
Palos School Superintendent Kathleen Casey says the system helps alleviate parents’ concerns.
“We can track the bus with the GPS, alleviate a parent’s fear if they got on or off bus, look up their ID number and find out what bus and what time boarded or if still on or exited,” she said.
The district spent $16,000 for the technology, which currently covers 10 buses. Parents say the cost is minimal for the benefits.
“As a parent, the safety of your child taking a bus is a number one concern” says Leslie Baudo.
Last year, Baudo’s son was over an hour late coming home. If that happens again, Baudo can now simply call the school and get immediate information from the secure database, making the waiting game just a little bit easier.