Q: What was the situation when you first arrived?
A: Although some major steps had been taken in West Virginia's schools to improve food standards in schools, the nutritional regulations set by the American government still allowed for pizza to be served for breakfast, french fries to be served as a vegetable and junk food to be served every day without any cutlery or crockery—sloppy joes, burgers, bad-quality hot dogs, corn dogs, burgers, nuggets. All of this food is riddled with large quantities of 'E' numbers, additives and nonfood items. There was no regulation set for sugar intake, and this was a massive problem bearing in mind one of the biggest problems is diabetes. If you speak to any paediatrician and say, "Identify the main enemy," they would say sugar. There is nearly as much sugar in a carton of milk as in a can of pop! There is sugar in the cereal; there is sugar in the bread; there is sugar here there and every bloomin' where! Why? Because it is cheap and the fast food industry has gotten us addicted to it. Ultimately what I am saying is: Although big steps have been made, junk food was still being served to those kids.
Q: You always have such a positive attitude, and you say that anything is achievable. When you first met the lunch ladies, were you surprised by their reaction to you?
A: I wanted the lunch ladies, especially Alice, to be a part of this really badly. What I was trying to do was to get all of the ladies in the kitchen to totally rethink what they had been paid to do for the last 18 years. I wanted them to have a new vision and set standards and basically admit that what was being done was not their fault, but was not in the best interest of the children. It's difficult if you have a foreigner coming in—or anyone coming in—and questioning the way you've always done things. Alice is a strong lady and will be an incredibly powerful force; she has so much to offer. She is a hard worker and is very methodical. This lead us to clash, but ultimately every day that I was going in there I was wishing for her to come around and support me. When you are trying to move mountains you want—and need—people on your side who want to move them with you.
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