A free copy of Jamie Oliver's latest cookbook, Save With Jamie, is being donated to every library in the UK.
The book, published today (29th August) by Penguin division Michael Joseph, focuses on cooking on a budget. More than 4,000 libraries in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will each receive a copy of the title, donated by Penguin Random House with the assistance of The Reading Agency.
Oliver said: "We know from the fabulous work that libraries do every day that everyone deserves a chance to learn basic skills that can improve everyday lives. Reading and cooking are two of those skills for sure. I’ll admit I’ve been a late developer with the first, but I can definitely help with the second."
Miranda McKearney, outgoing director of The Reading Agency, said: "We can’t thank Jamie and Penguin Random House enough for this incredibly generous gift to library users. It sends out a powerful message—to live well we need to feed our bodies with healthy food, and our minds with great reading.
"For those under financial pressure, libraries offer fantastic free reading experiences and they’re a great place to go if you’re on a tight budget. We’re delighted to be working with the Society of Chief Librarians, Libraries Northern Ireland and the Scottish Library and Information Council to get Save with Jamie to every library in the country."
Penguin Random House c.e.o. Tom Weldon said: "Save with Jamie is a book we are very proud to be publishing and we hope that this gift will genuinely have a positive impact on households of the UK."
Tony Durcan of the Society of Chief Librarians said libraries were experiencing "a tsunami of demand from users on tight budgets . . . So Jamie’s gift is extremely welcome, and we will put the books to very good use." He added: "It’s really cheering to have this help in meeting the needs of the communities we are passionate about serving."
Oliver has aroused considerable controversy in recent days with comments made while publicising the book and Channel 4 TV programme, "Jamie's Money Saving Meals". In an interview with the Radio Times, Oliver said low income families often made poor food choices, while in a Good Housekeeping interview he said his restaurants would close without immigrant workers, because British people would "whinge" about long hours and tough conditions. Newspaper columnists have piled into the debate, with views ranging from "Jamie is right; a poor diet is the national disease" to "Jamie Oliver has no right to tell us how to spend our money", coming from Oliver's Michael Joseph stablemate Jack Monroe, writing in the Independent.