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Chef Jamie Oliver Makes Over School Lunches

In an effort to reduce obesity among kids, this celebrity chef has come up with lots of healthy lunch ideas.

You proved then that nutritious and delicious fare could be produced for roughly the same amount of money the government was spending on less substantial -- and even unhealthy -- lunchroom options, such as potato chips. Are your plans still in action, and can schools really meet their budgets and still serve healthy meals?

I always said this would be a 10-year plan. ... Some of the things that were promised have been done, and some haven't. But I think things are slowly moving in the right direction. Many individual schools are making great progress.

Studies have shown that the poorest economically often eat the poorest nutritionally. If junk food is cheap and vegetables are pricey, how can we turn the tide on the obesity epidemic?

I don't really fall for that argument. I've spent time in Italy and seen the poorest of people eating the most delicious -- but really inexpensive -- food because they know how to use ingredients. I've been to South Africa and seen women in shantytowns preparing meals for school kids that cost a few cents but had huge nutritional value. How much are a few vegetables? How much is a bag of dried [whole-wheat] pasta? I could easily feed a family of four for under $10 -- which is less than any junk food.

You're the father of two daughters, so you know how tricky it can be with kids and vegetables. How do you inspire healthy eating for the youngest children?

I'm lucky because the kids have always eaten well -- they got used to trying loads of new things when they were younger, so they got a taste for different flavors and textures. It's harder as kids get older, but if you persevere and don't get upset if they won't try new things the first time, eventually most kids will get into new tastes.

You spent your own childhood in the kitchen of your parents' restaurant/pub near Cambridge. Did they cook with healthy "naked" ingredients, or have you taught them a thing or two as your own culinary star has risen?

My dad always used the best food he could find. He visited local farms to source meat and poultry, and he grew his own vegetables as much as he could. He is a big inspiration to me.

Pack a Punch in Your Kid's Lunch

WebMD consulted nutritionist Joy Bauer for a week's worth of healthy lunchbox ideas that taste great and give kids a smart start on the school day.

Monday Canned wild salmon, mixed with low-fat mayo, with whole-grain crackers

Tuesday Cold whole-grain pasta salad with roasted or grilled veggies (try zucchini, mushrooms, and red peppers)

Wednesday Nonfat yogurt, berry fruit salad, with peanut butter in celery sticks

Thursday Grilled or roasted chicken breast tenders, sliced red peppers, and low-fat cheese on whole-grain pita (try spinach pita as a kid-friendly alternative)

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