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First Lady Michelle Obama: Eliminating Food Deserts in America

Posted by: Audiegrl

Food desert?… What’s a food desert?

As part of Lets Move!, the campaign to end childhood obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama is taking on food deserts. These are nutritional wastelands that exist across America in both urban and rural communities where parents and children simply do not have access to a supermarket. Watch the video below and learn what the First Lady is doing to help families in these areas across the country.

More than 23 million Americans, including 6.5 million children, live in low-income urban and rural neighborhoods that are more than a mile from a supermarket. These communities, where access to affordable, quality, and nutritious foods is limited, are known as food deserts. By using the new interactive Food Environment Atlas, users can see the location of food deserts across the country and other indicators of how successful communities are in accessing healthy food. Lack of access to proper nutrition is one reason why many children are not eating the recommended levels of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Food insecurity and hunger among our children is even more widespread. A recent USDA report showed that in 2008, an estimated 49.1 million people, including 16.7 million children, lived in households that experienced hunger multiple times throughout the year. (Household Food Security in the United States, 2008) Too often, these same school age children are not eating the recommended level of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy products. (source) So, Let’s Move! to ensure that all families have access to healthy, affordable food in their communities.

Let's Move!As part of the President’s proposed FY 2011 budget, the Administration announced a new program – the Healthy Food Financing Initiative — a partnership between the U.S. Departments of Treasury, Agriculture and Health and Human Services which will invest $400 million a year to provide innovative financing to bring grocery stores to underserved areas and help places such as convenience stores and bodegas carry healthier food options. Grants will also help bring farmers markets and fresh foods into underserved communities, boosting both family health and local economies. Through these initiatives and private sector engagement, the Administration will work to eliminate food deserts across the country within seven years.

This Spring, LetsMove.gov will unveil specialized tool kits and strategies to help increase access to healthy, affordable food in communities across the country.

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The Chicago Tribune Names First Lady Michelle Obama One of the 2010 Good Eating Award Winners

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Children from Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, D.C. help First Lady Michelle Obama plant the White House Vegetable Garden, April 9, 2009.  (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Children from Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, D.C. help First Lady Michelle Obama plant the White House Vegetable Garden, April 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Chicago Tribune~There’s a 1,100-square-foot organic vegetable, fruit and herb garden on the South Lawn of the White House. That patch of earth planted in March — the first time vegetables have been grown at the White House since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency in the ’40s — has yielded 700-plus pounds of lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, collards and more for meals at the White House and a nearby homeless shelter.

That garden, first lady Michelle Obama told reporters, is “one of the greatest things that I’ve done in my life.” It also signaled the first lady’s efforts to improve America’s eating habits, tackle childhood obesity and encourage fitness. She began by bringing those efforts to her new home, where chef-working mom Cristeta Comerford runs the White House kitchen, by adding chef Sam Kass (whose track record includes work at Avec) to mentor her local-sustainable efforts.

2010 Good Eating AwardOther first ladies have urged healthy eating at the White House ( Hillary Clinton pushed for a low-fat menu, while Laura Bush encouraged organic foods). But Michelle Obama has, in her first year, moved food and nutrition issues front and center. Her efforts dovetail with our appetite for the food-tube (she kicked off this year with an appearance on “Iron Chef America“) and America’s awareness that what you eat plays a major role in your health.

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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82nd Annual Academy Awards ~ Oscars® ~ Best Documentary Feature

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Burma VJ
Burma VJ(Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Directors: Anders Østergaard and Lise Lense-Møller
A Magic Hour Films Production

Click here for complete coverage of Burma VJ, that includes: nominations, trailers, cast, reviews, production notes, and more…

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The Cove
The Cove(Roadside Attractions)
Directors: Louie Psihoyos and Fisher Stevens
An Oceanic Preservation Society Production

Click here for complete coverage of The Cove, that includes: nominations, trailers, cast, reviews, production notes, and more…

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Food, Inc.
Food Inc.(Magnolia Pictures)
Directors: Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein
A Robert Kenner Films Production

Click here for complete coverage of Food, Inc., that includes: nominations, trailers, cast, reviews, production notes, and more…

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The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon PapersA Kovno Communications Production
Directors: Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith

Click here for complete coverage of The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, that includes: nominations, trailers, cast, reviews, production notes, and more…

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Which Way Home
Which Way HomeA Mr. Mudd Production
Director: Rebecca Cammisa

Click here for complete coverage of Which Way Home, that includes: nominations, trailers, cast, reviews, production notes, and more…

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Back to 44-D’s Virtual Red Carpet to the Oscars®Back to 44-D’s Virtual Red Carpet to the Oscars®

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First Lady Michelle Obama Travels to Philadelphia: Making Healthy Food Accessible & Affordable

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks on the "Let's Move" health initiative at Fairhill Elementary School in Philadelphia, Pa., Feb. 19, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks on the Let's Move health initiative at Fairhill Elementary School in Philadelphia, Pa., Feb. 19, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)


With Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in tow, First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Philadelphia yesterday as part of the Let’s Move! campaign, a nationwide effort to rally the country around one goal, ending the epidemic of childhood obesity.

During her remarks at Fairhill Elementary School, Mrs. Obama applauded the city of Philadelphia for their “stand” to end childhood obesity:

Six years ago, when this city had fewer supermarkets per person than almost anywhere in America, all right, that was six years ago, when many folks had no access to healthy foods; six years ago many neighborhoods had alarming rates of obesity-related conditions like heart disease and diabetes — the folks in this city, you all could have decided that you had an unsolvable problems on your hands, right? You could have done that. You could have decided that these problems were just too big and too complicated and too entrenched and thrown your hands up and walked away.

But instead you all took a stand, a really important, collaborative stand. You decided first that no family in this city should be spending a fortune on high-priced, low-quality foods because they have no other options. You decided that no child should be consigned to a life of poor health because of what neighborhood his or her family lives in. And you decided that you weren’t going to just talk about the problem or wring your hands about the problems, but you were going to act.

And that’s precisely the kind of determination, the kind of commitment that we need to address the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country. And this issue is an issue of great concern to me, and I’ve said this before, not because I’m First Lady — or not just because I’m First Lady of this country — but because I’m a mother, and I care about my kids and I care about all of our kids. And I know that this issue is a great concern to all of you, everyone around this country. We all care about our kids. That’s why last week we enthusiastically and proudly launched “Let’s Move.” (Applause.) “Let’s Move” is a nationwide campaign to rally this country around one single but ambitious goal, and that is to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in a generation so that the kids born today grow up with a healthy weight. Simple but ambitious.

Mrs. Obama also announced a new part of Let’s Move! — the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, a multi-million dollar public and private investment to eliminate food deserts in America within seven years:


“So with your success here in Pennsylvania, what you’ve shown us is that when we provide the right support and incentives, then business leaders like Pat Burns and Jeff Brown, they’re going to take the chance to invest in our communities. And when we bring fresh, healthy food to communities, what do we learn? People will buy it, right? People will buy it. These stores are turning a profit. And what’s going on is that they’re doing well by doing good. Isn’t that something? (Applause.)

So it’s because of this example that part of “Let’s Move” we created this Healthy Food Financing Initiative that’s modeled on what’s been going on here. And as Secretary Geithner said, with a modest initial investment of about $400 million a year, we’re going to use that money to leverage hundreds of millions more from private and non-profit sectors to bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved communities all across this country. If you can do it here, we can do it around the country. (Applause.) And our goal is ambitious. It’s to eliminate food deserts in America completely in seven years. (Applause.)

Again, we know this is ambitious, but we also know that tackling the issue of accessibility and affordability is key to achieving the overall goal of solving childhood obesity in this generation.”

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To learn more about what you can do to help solve the childhood obesity epidemic – visit LetsMove.gov and become a fan of Let’s Move! on FaceBook.

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Announce 2010 Easter Egg Roll Theme Ready, Set, Go!

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle, and their daughter Sasha welcome people to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House April 13, 2009 in Washington, DC. The event dates back to 1878 and is named for races where children push colored eggs across the grass using wooden spoons. (Photo by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

The President and First Lady have announced that this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll will be held on Monday, April 5, 2010 with the theme of “Ready, Set, Go!” promoting health and wellness. The event will feature live music, sports courts, cooking stations, storytelling and, of course, Easter egg rolling. All of the activities will encourage children to lead healthy and active lives and follow the First Lady’s ‘Let’s Move!’ initiative, a national campaign to combat childhood obesity.

Souvenir White House Eggs

The 2010 White House Easter Egg Roll souvenir eggs will be available for purchase online at the National Park Foundation website. Each wooden egg is expertly crafted, painted, and includes the signatures of the President and First Lady.

The White House will open its South Lawn for children aged 12 years and younger and their families. Full ticketing information is below. We hope to see you at the White House!

Ticketing Information

The First Lady with daughter's Sasha and Malia Easter 2009

The First Lady with daughter's Sasha and Malia Easter 2009

White House Easter Egg Roll tickets will be distributed through an online lottery system, allowing guests from across the United States to participate in a tradition that dates back to 1878.

Entries for the 2010 White House Easter Egg Roll Online Lottery will be accepted from Thursday, February 25 through Sunday, February 28. One entry per person may be submitted at anytime during the lottery period. All entries will have an equal chance of being selected.

The lottery will be run on March 1. Lottery results will be available starting Thursday, March 4, 2010. Please visit www.recreation.gov to apply for the online ticket lottery.

Here’s a video roundup of the 2009 White House Easter Egg Roll

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First Lady Michelle Obama: America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids

Let's Move

Click to visit Let's Move

Let’s Move is comprehensive, collaborative, and community-oriented and will include strategies to address the various factors that lead to childhood obesity. It will foster collaboration among the leaders in government, medicine and science, business, education, athletics, community organizations and more. And it will take into account how life is really lived in communities across the country – encouraging, supporting and pursuing solutions that are tailored to children and families facing a wide range of challenges and life circumstances.

President Barack Obama kicked off the launch by signing a Presidential Memorandum creating the first ever Task Force on Childhood Obesity which will include the DPC, Office of the First Lady, Interior, USDA, HHS, Education, NEC and other agencies. Within 90 days, the Task Force will conduct a review of every single program and policy relating to child nutrition and physical activity and develop a national action plan that maximizes federal resources and sets concrete benchmarks toward First Lady Michelle Obama’s national goal.

While the review is underway, Administration and public and private efforts are already moving to combat obesity and reach the First Lady’s national goal:

First Lady Michelle Obama walks with students from Bancroft Elementary School and Kimball Elementary School on the South Lawn of the White House on October 29, 2009 in Washington, DC. First lady Michelle Obama invited local school children to help with the fall vegetable harvest in the garden at the White House. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)


Helping Parents Make Healthy Family Choices

Parents play a key role in making healthy choices for their children and teaching their children to make healthy choices for themselves. But in today’s busy world, this isn’t always easy. So Let’s Move will offer parents the tools, support and information they need to make healthier choices for their families. The Administration, along with partners in the private sector and medical community, will:

Empower Consumers: By the end of this year, the Food and Drug Administration will begin working with retailers and manufacturers to adopt new nutritionally sound and consumer friendly frontof- package labeling. This will put us on a path towards 65 million parents in America having easy access to the information needed to make healthy choices for their children.

Already, the private sector is responding. Today, the American Beverage Association announced that its member companies will voluntarily put a clear, uniform, front-of-pack calorie label on all of their cans, bottles, vending and fountain machines within two years. The label will reflect total calories per container in containers up to 20 oz. in size. For containers greater than 20 oz., the label will reflect a 12 oz. serving size. While more work remains to be done, this marks an important first step in ensuring parents have the information they need to make healthier choices

Provide Parents with a Rx for Healthier Living: The American Academy of Pediatrics, in collaboration with the broader medical community, will educate doctors and nurses across the country about obesity, ensure they regularly monitor children’s BMI, provide counseling for healthy eating early on, and, for the first time ever, will even write a prescription for parents laying out the simple things they can do to increase healthy eating and active play.

Major New Public Information Campaign: Major media companies – including the Walt Disney Company, NBC, Universal and Viacom – have committed to join the First Lady’s effort and increase public awareness of the need to combat obesity through public service announcements (PSAs), special programming, and marketing. The Ad Council, Warner Brothers and Scholastic Media have also partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to run PSAs featuring top professional athletes, Scholastic Media’s Maya & Miguel, and Warner Brothers’ legendary Looney Tunes characters.

Next Generation Food Pyramid: To help people make healthier food and physical activity choices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will revamp the famous food pyramid. MyPyramid.gov is one of the most popular websites in the federal government, and a 2.0 version of the Web site will offer consumers a host of tools to help them put the Dietary Guidelines into practice.

Empower Change: USDA has created the firstever interactive database – the Food Environment Atlas – that maps healthy food environments at the local level across the country. It will help people identify the existence of food deserts, high incidences of diabetes, and other conditions in their communities. This information can be used by parents, educators, government and businesses to create change across the country.

LetsMove.gov: To help children parents, teachers, doctors, coaches, the nonprofit and business communities and others understand the epidemic of childhood obesity and take steps to combat it, the Administration has launched a new “one-stop” shopping website — LetsMove.gov — to provide helpful tips, step-by-step strategies for parents, and regular updates on how the federal government is working with partners to reach the national goal.

First Lady Michelle Obama and students from Bancroft Elementary School and Kimball Elementary School examine their vegetables

Serving Healthier Food in Schools

Many children consume as many as half of their daily calories at school. As families work to ensure that kids eat right and have active play at home, we also need to ensure our kids have access to healthy meals in their schools. With more than 31 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program and more than 11 million participating in the National School Breakfast Program, good nutrition at school is more important than ever. Together with the private sector and the non-profi t community, we will take the following steps to get healthier food in our nation’s schools:

Reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act: The Administration is requesting an historic investment of an additional $10 billion over ten years starting in 2011 to improve the quality of the National School Lunch and Breakfast program, increase the number of kids participating, and ensure schools have the resources they need to make program changes, including training for school food service workers, upgraded kitchen equipment, and additional funding for meal reimbursements. With this investment, additional fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products will be served in our school cafeterias and an additional one million students will be served in the next five years.

Double the number of schools participating in the Healthier US School Challenge: The Healthier US School Challenge establishes rigorous standards for schools’ food quality, participation in meal programs, physical activity, and nutrition education – the key components that make for healthy and active kids – and provides recognition for schools that meet these standards. Over the next school year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, working with partners in schools and the private sector, will double the number of schools that meet the Healthier US School Challenge and add 1,000 schools per year for two years after that.

We are bringing to the table key stakeholder groups that have committed to work together to improve the nutritional quality of school meals across the country.

New Commitments from Major School Food Suppliers: School food suppliers are taking important first steps to help meet the Healthier US School Challenge goal. Major school food suppliers including Sodexho, Chartwells School Dining Services, and Aramark have voluntarily committed to meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations within five years to decrease the amount of sugar, fat and salt in school meals; increase whole grains; and double the amount of produce they serve within 10 years. By the end of the 2010-2011 school year, they have committed to quadruple the number of the schools they serve that meet the Healthier US School Challenge.

School Nutrition Association: The School Nutrition Association (SNA), which represents food service workers in more than 75% of the nation’s schools, has joined the Let’s Move campaign. Working with other education partners, SNA has committed to increasing education and awareness of the dangers of obesity among their members and the students they serve, and ensuring that the nutrition programs in 10,000 schools meet the Healthier US School Challenge standards over the next five years.

School Leadership: Working with school food service providers and SNA, the National School Board Association, the Council of Great City Schools and the American Association of School Administrators Council have all embraced, and committed to meeting, the national Let’s Move goal. The Council of Great City Schools has also has set a goal of having every urban school meet the Healthier US Schools gold standard within five years. The American Association of School Administrators has committed to ensuring that an additional 2,000 schools meet the challenge over the next two years. These combined efforts will touch 50 million students and their families in every school district in America.

First Lady Michelle Obama thanks students from Bancroft Elementary School and Kimball Elementary School for helping harvest vegetables on the South Lawn of the White House on October 29, 2009 in Washington, DC.

Accessing Healthy, Affordable Food

More than 23 million Americans, including 6.5 million children, live in low-income urban and rural neighborhoods that are more than a mile from a supermarket. These communities, where access to affordable, quality, and nutritious foods is limited, are known as food deserts. Lack of access is one reason why many children are not eating recommended levels of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And food insecurity and hunger among children is widespread. A recent USDA report showed that in 2008, an estimated 49.1 million people, including 16.7 million children, lived in households that experienced hunger multiple times throughout the year. The Administration, through new federal investments and the creation of public private partnerships, will:

Eliminate Food Deserts: As part of the President’s proposed FY 2011 budget, the Administration announced the new Healthy Food Financing Initiative – a partnership between the U.S. Departments of Treasury, Agriculture and Health and Human Services that will invest $400 million a year to help bring grocery stores to under-served areas and help places such as convenience stores and bodegas carry healthier food options. Through these initiatives and private sector engagement, the Administration will work to eliminate food deserts across the country within seven years.

Increase Farmers Markets: The President’s 2011 Budget proposes an additional $5 million investment in the Farmers Market Promotion Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture which provides grants to establish, and improve access to, farmers markets.

First Lady Michelle Obama and students from Bancroft Elementary School and Kimball Elementary School pose for a photograph with freshly harvested vegetables on the South Lawn of the White House on October 29, 2009 in Washington, DC.

Increasing Physical Activity

Children need 60 minutes of active play each day. Yet, the average American child spends more than 7.5 hours a day watching TV and movies, using cell phones and computers, and playing video games, and only a third of high school students get the recommended levels of physical activity. Through public-private partnerships, and reforms of existing federal programs, the Administration will address this imbalance by:

Expanding and Modernizing the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge: In the coming weeks, the President will be naming new members to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, housed at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The council will be charged with increasing participation in the President’s Challenge and with modernizing and expanding it, so that it is consistent with the latest research and science.

For more information, please visit www.letsmove.gov.

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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First Lady Michelle Obama Unveils Let’s Move…A Nationwide Campaign to Combat Childhood Obesity

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President Obama Signs Childhood Obesity Memorandum

President Barack Obama signs the memorandum on childhood obesity, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010, in the Oval Office of the White House,Washington. Standing, from left are, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Health and Human Secretary Services Kathleen Sebelius, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

On Tuesday, First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled her nationwide anti-childhood obesity initiative. President Obama signed a Memorandum on Childhood Obesity with the First Lady proudly standing by his side.

Mrs. Obama’s East Wing said she will be “joined by members of the president’s cabinet, as well as media, sports, entertainment, and business leaders,” plus mayors, member of the medical community and others at the White House event. Her press office has confirmed the following attendees:

  • Mayors Chip Johnson of Hernando, Mississippi, and Joseph Curtatone of Somerville, Massachusetts, who are leading efforts in their communities to reduce childhood obesity
  • Dr. Judith Palfrey, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Will Allen from Milwaukee, WI, who is a leader in the effort to bring fresh produce to inner cities and urban areas
  • Local students, including a student from DC’s Bancroft elementary school, and members of the 2009 national championship pee-wee football team—Watkins Hornets
  • Tiki Barber, NBC correspondent and former NFL football player

“Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled; nearly one third of children in America are now overweight or obese,” the East Wing said in a statement. “The First Lady will announce the elements of the nationwide campaign, which will put us on track to solve the problem of childhood obesity in a generation.”

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First Lady Michelle Obama hugs student Tammy Nguyen in the Red Room of the White House before an event announcing a campaign to combat the rapidly growing problem of childhood obesity while Tiki Barber checks his notes before they take the stage, Feb. 9, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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First Lady Michelle Obama’s PSA for Let’s Move
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Let's Move

Click to visit Let's Move

Childhood obesity or excess weight threatens the healthy future of one third of American children. We spend $150 billion every year to treat obesity-related conditions, and that number is growing.

Obesity rates tripled in the past 30 years, a trend that means, for the first time in our history, American children may face a shorter expected lifespan than their parents.

We need to get moving. Join First Lady Michelle Obama, community leaders, teachers, doctors, nurses, moms and dads in a nationwide campaign to tackle the challenge of childhood obesity.

Let’s Move! has an ambitious but important goal: to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.

Let’s Move will give parents the support they need, provide healthier food in schools, help our kids to be more physically active, and make healthy, affordable food available in every part of our country.

On Tuesday morning, Mrs. Obama sat down with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, and in the evening with CNN’s Larry King to discuss her childhood obesity initiative Let’s Move Here’s are some excerpts of the those interviews:

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