When Michelle Obama Says “˜Let’s Move’ “¦

FILE - In this June 3, 2011, file photo, first lady Michelle Obama tends the White House garden in Washington, with a group of children as part of the "Let's Move!" campaign. Michelle Obama has a new look, both in person and online, and with the president's re-election, she has four more years as first lady, too. The first lady is trying to figure out what comes next for this self-described "mom in chief" who also is a champion of healthier eating, an advocate for military families, a fitness buff and the best-selling author of a book about her White House garden. For certain, she'll press ahead with her well-publicized efforts to reduce childhood obesity and rally the country around its service members.
National Journal
Rebecca Kaplan
Sept. 18, 2013, 4:30 p.m.

When Kev­in Con­can­non, the Ag­ri­cul­ture De­part­ment’s un­der­sec­ret­ary for food, nu­tri­tion, and con­sumer ser­vices, travels for work, he con­sist­ently hears one re­quest: Can you get Michelle Obama to come to our school?

“She’s clearly iden­ti­fied as a cham­pi­on,” Con­can­non said, “and that helps us.”

Obama has made the fight against child­hood obesity one of her sig­na­ture policy pri­or­it­ies, and she has pro­moted bet­ter nu­tri­tion and phys­ic­al activ­ity for chil­dren through the “Let’s Move” pro­gram. The pub­lic health com­munity has cred­ited her with put­ting sus­tained fo­cus on the is­sue.

“Hav­ing this be a pri­or­ity of the first lady really strengthens all of us that work in nu­tri­tion policy and nu­tri­tion ad­vocacy,” said Lore­lei DiSo­gra, the vice pres­id­ent of nu­tri­tion and health for the United Fresh Pro­duce As­so­ci­ation, which rep­res­ents fruit and ve­get­able grow­ers. “Every­body is pulling in the same dir­ec­tion to make these changes that those of us in pub­lic health have been try­ing to make for many, many years.”

Much of Obama’s work on the is­sue has been through dir­ect pub­lic out­reach, such as me­dia ap­pear­ances and events. She rarely works dir­ectly with Con­gress, though she was act­ively in­volved in lob­by­ing for pas­sage of the 2010 Healthy Hun­ger-Free Kids Act and ap­peared with her hus­band at its sign­ing. That bill re­quires that schools re­ceiv­ing fed­er­al re­im­burse­ment serve health­i­er meals and also provides them a 6-cent in­crease per meal if they meet the new stand­ards.

“The first lady’s of­fice helped enorm­ously in get­ting it over the goal line,” Con­can­non said. Without her ef­forts, he said, “I don’t be­lieve that it would have made it.”

Last month, sev­er­al news out­lets re­por­ted that schools were drop­ping out of the Na­tion­al School Lunch Pro­gram be­cause the new food they were serving in com­pli­ance with USDA guidelines — lim­it­ing total cal­or­ies and salt, and in­creas­ing the use of whole grains and fresh fruits and ve­get­ables — was be­ing thrown out by stu­dents.

Con­can­non called the re­ports over­blown, and ad­ded that USDA sur­veys show the num­ber of schools that have dropped out of the pro­gram be­cause of the meal re­quire­ments rep­res­en­ted less than one-quarter of 1 per­cent of the total.

It’s not the first in­stance of cri­ti­cism. When USDA re­leased its guidelines in 2011 and at­temp­ted to curb the pres­ence of some foods like white pota­toes, there was back­lash from both the in­dustry and law­makers.

“We thought that pota­toes were be­ing un­fairly char­ac­ter­ized as a non­nu­tri­tious source,” said Mark Szy­manski, a spokes­man for the Na­tion­al Potato Coun­cil. “In the fi­nal reg­u­la­tions, we got back to a more com­mon­sense ap­proach,” he ad­ded, re­fer­ring to a move by the Sen­ate to block the Ag­ri­cul­ture De­part­ment from lim­it­ing ve­get­able servings.

“I took that as an in­dic­a­tion that we were really ac­com­plish­ing something,” said Sam Kass, the as­sist­ant White House chef and ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of Let’s Move. “I think the push­back was re­l­at­ively min­im­al com­pared to the size of the change that we were un­der­tak­ing.”

USDA also is­sued guidelines on vend­ing-ma­chine snacks and cafet­er­ia a la carte lines, which will be im­ple­men­ted dur­ing the next aca­dem­ic year. But the next food-driv­en battle will likely take place this fall over fund­ing for the food-stamps pro­gram, which was sep­ar­ated from the rest of the farm bill this year in the House. Michelle Obama has not in­dic­ated she will lobby Con­gress, but pres­sure could come from her hus­band.

The Sen­ate and the House handle child-nu­tri­tion pro­grams dif­fer­ently. The Sen­ate Ag­ri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee handles both school meals and the Spe­cial Sup­ple­ment­al Nu­tri­tion Pro­gram for Wo­men, In­fants, and Chil­dren, or WIC, but in the House, child nu­tri­tion goes through the Edu­ca­tion and the Work­force Com­mit­tee.

The House Ag­ri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee has jur­is­dic­tion over food stamps and com­mod­ity-dis­tri­bu­tion pro­grams. There is a de­bate in the coun­try over wheth­er food stamps — of­fi­cially the Sup­ple­ment­al Nu­tri­tion As­sist­ance Pro­gram, or SNAP — should be changed so that be­ne­fi­ciar­ies can­not buy foods such as potato chips and soda that nu­tri­tion­ists deem un­healthy, and wheth­er com­mod­ity-dis­tri­bu­tion pro­grams that sup­ply food banks and in­sti­tu­tions should em­phas­ize healthy foods rather than ful­filling their tra­di­tion­al job of re­mov­ing sur­plus foods from the mar­ket to sta­bil­ize prices of meats and ve­get­ables. Obama, who sticks to pos­it­ive mes­sages about what people should eat, and the House Ag­ri­cul­ture pan­el, which re­sponds to ag­ri­cul­ture and an­ti­hun­ger groups that do not want the gov­ern­ment to tell poor people what to eat, have both stayed out of those de­bates.

Kass said cuts pro­posed by Re­pub­lic­ans are un­pal­at­able to the White House. “I think what they put out is un­con­scion­able and goes against the val­ues that we hold,” he said. “That is not go­ing to be part of any bill that gets to the pres­id­ent’s desk.”

What We're Following See More »
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
3 days ago
THE LATEST
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
3 days ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
5 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
5 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
6 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×