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

Posted by: Audiegrl

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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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 Secretary Duncan Meet 6th Graders

Posted by: Audiegrl

Speeding Up the Race to the Top

President Barack Obama and Sec. of Education Arne Duncan, right, take questions during a group discussion with 6th grade students at Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, VA. January 19, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama announces a proposed $1.3 billion investment in Race to the Top, a program to encourage innovation and excellence in education through competitive grants, at an event at Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, VA. January 19, 2010.

This morning the President and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan paid a visit to Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia where they had a chat with about 30 6th grade students. The conversation put a face to the people they were trying to help with the President’s latest investment of more than a billion dollars in next year’s budget to amp up the President’s “Race to the Top” program – a competition to incentivize success that has already generated an overwhelming response from states, with over 30 states expected to compete for first-round funding.

You can learn more about Graham Road in the White House background release, but the school made a mark on its community by implementing a comprehensive strategy to turn around student achievement, adopting rigorous and high-quality student assessments, teacher evaluation and professional development, along with innovative and effective use of data systems to track student performance. As a result, in 2008 all of the school’s sixth-graders met Virginia’s reading standards, and 96 percent met math standards, despite being one of the lowest income schools in the county. The expansion of Race to the Top comes with a plan to encourage precisely this kind of visionary change in schools that apply for the challenge.

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In his remarks after the meeting with students, the President explained how it all works, and the logic behind “Race to the Top“:

Last year, we set aside more than $4 billion to improve our schools — one of the largest investments in reform in our nation’s history. But we didn’t just hand this money out to states that wanted it; we challenged them to compete for it. And it’s the competitive nature of this initiative that we believe helps make it so effective. We laid out a few key criteria and said if you meet these tests, we’ll reward you by helping you reform your schools.

First, we encouraged states to adopt more challenging standards that will actually prepare our kids for college and their careers. We also encouraged schools to adopt better assessments — not just one-size-fits-all approaches — to measure what our kids know and what they’re able to do.

Second, we urged schools and school districts to make sure we have excellent principals leading our schools and great teachers leading our classes by promoting rigorous plans to develop and evaluate teachers and principals and by rewarding their success.

Third, we urged states to use cutting-edge data systems to track a child’s progress throughout their academic career, and to link that child’s progress to their teachers so we know what’s working and what’s not working in the classroom. Fourth, we encouraged states to show a stronger commitment to turning around some of their lowest-performing schools.

And even before states have received a single dime of taxpayer money, many of them have committed to instituting important reforms to better position themselves for a Race to the Top grant. Forty-eight states have now joined a nationwide partnership to develop a common set of rigorous, career-ready standards in reading and math. Wisconsin has enacted legislation permitting schools to link student achievement to the performance of teachers and principals. In Illinois, Louisiana, Tennessee, California, we’ve seen changes in laws or policies to let public charter schools expand and succeed. These are public schools with more independence that are formed by teachers, parents, and community members.

So by rewarding some of these states submitting applications today, by extending the Race to the Top for states, by launching a Race to the Top among school districts, and by applying the principles of Race to the Top to other federal programs, we’ll build on this success. We’re going to raise the bar for all our students and take bigger steps towards closing the achievement gap that denies so many students, especially black and Latino students, a fair shot at their dreams.

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