The first lady’s “Let’s Move” program just celebrated its one year anniversary. Launched in February of 2010, the program was designed in response to rising childhood obesity rates in the United States. Mrs. Obama is currently on a press tour, speaking about the progress made in the first year of the program and what’s next for her Let’s Move initiative going forward. I think it’s exciting that a first lady has chosen this as an area of interest; historically presidents’ wives have chosen more traditional issues like education and literacy (Barbara and Laura Bush), health care/research (Hillary Rodham Clinton), and drug abuse (Betty Ford and Nancy Reagan). Food, nutrition, and children’s health have been corollaries of some of these initiatives but for the first time kids and food really take center stage. Pretty cool, huh?
The “Let’s Move” campaign has five pillars on which its recommendations are built:
- Creating a healthy start for children
- Empowering parents and caregivers
- Providing healthy food in schools (emphasis mine)
- Improving access to healthy, affordable foods
- Increasing physical activity
Thanks in no small part to Mrs. Obama’s campaign, people are talking about food, nutrition, and how our kids eat at school. I’ve been blogging about communities and schools across America who are taking on the issue of childhood hunger and nutrition (read here and here) and it’s exciting to see people becoming more passionate about food.
Parents are getting involved. School districts are getting involved. Chefs, nutritionists, nonprofit organizations, big corporations and small local farmers—even little ol’ bloggers like me. The possibilities for change are expanding and with it, the discussion on how to feed kids.
Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom is funded by a generous donation from the Walmart Foundation. Walmart—the largest grocer in the U.S.—recently announced a pledge to make the products that they carry healthier and more affordable. Specifically, they promise: to reduce 25% of sodium, 10% of added sugars and eliminate trans-fats from processed foods on their shelves by 2015; cut $1b in costs to reduce the price of produce for the consumer; and build more stores in low-income neighborhoods to increase access to affordable, healthy food.
While the focus of the Let’s Move campaign is to eliminate childhood obesity, I think it’s important to remember that poverty, hunger and malnutrition are still important aspects of this conversation. Just because children—and adults for that matter—are overweight, doesn’t mean that they aren’t also malnourished. It might seem counterintuitive but it’s true; consuming calorie-dense junk foods is a one-two punch of malnourishment and obesity risk. Overweight kids can still be—and are— hungry kids. So Let’s Move together—toward a healthy, nourishing and exciting future.
Image credit: SXC