The White House Food Initiative Coordinator makes his morning TV show debut with a healthy cooking lesson for Al Roker and DC school kids; watch the video after the jump...
First Lady Michelle Obama's telegenic Food Initiative Coordinator, Sam Kass, is very comfortable on camera, and this morning he made his debut on the Today show. Joined by four child chefs from DC's Bancroft Elementary School, Kass gave reporter Al Roker a quick lesson in creating healthy and delicious breakfast foods in the White House kitchen. It's part of the big lead-up to Mrs. Obama's national child obesity campaign, which will be formally launched next Tuesday, Feb. 9. Kass's cooking lesson is the fun side dish to a wide-ranging interview Mrs. Obama gave to Today's Matt Lauer; the segment in which the First Lady discusses her child obesity campaign is here.
In the video above, as Roker looks on, the Bancroft kids busily prepare wholegrain waffle sandwiches with peanut butter, jelly and bananas, as well as "egg in the hole," also made with whole grain bread, while Kass discusses Mrs. Obama's campaign.
"They are powerful actors in this, and we're looking for them to be leaders," Kass says about the active part he hopes children will take in Mrs. Obama's campaign.
"Really what this [the campaign] is about is getting simple tools for parents and families to help make better choices," Kass says, and pots to the cooking kids. " And so right here, this is the essence of it. Having kids be able to eat healthy food that tastes great and that they love."
Kass has been the architect of much that will go on in Mrs. Obama's campaign. From their experience working with kids last year in the White House Kitchen Garden, Kass and Mrs. Obama figured out that children really can urge their parents to change family food habits. They also believe changing children's palates at a young age, by exposing them to fresh and healthy food, can have a lifelong impact. Thus Mrs. Obama's campaign will include a push for healthier foods to be used in the federal school breakfast and lunch programs, which feed more than 30 million kids each day.
The First Lady's campaign will also include efforts at reducing food deserts and making healthy food more affordable; and encouraging schools and communities to promote physical fitness.
Kass also notes onscreen that one of the reasons Mrs. Obama wanted to start her campaign is because she's a mother, something the First Lady has also said repeatedly.
"She lives this, she comes to it as a mom, she walks the walk," Kass says. "She was inspired to do this out of her experience as a mom, and trying to do the best by her kids."
During the segment, there is no mention of the fact that Roker himself used to be obese, and that he underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2002, which resulted in a 115 pound weight loss. Perhaps it was left out of the mix because weight loss surgery is the antithesis of the First Lady's campaign. Sadly, Roker is among the millions of Americans who could have used Mrs. Obama's help long ago.
The Today show is not Kass's first network TV outing; in November of 2009, Kass appeared on NBC's competition weight loss program The Biggest Loser. Neither Roker nor Kass mentions any part of Kass's background during the video clip; read about it here. Roker tweets about Kass here.
Related: Mrs. Obama talks with Today's Matt Lauer about her campaign here. The pre-launch of Mrs. Obama's child obesity initiative: On Tuesday, the First Lady met with lawmakers and Cabinet Secretaries at the White House to discuss the campaign. Last week, Mrs. Obama had a mini-summit at a Virginia YMCA about child obesity; a video of the event is here, and the full transcript of the First Lady's remarks is here. Two weeks ago, Mrs. Obama addressed the US Conference of Mayors on the subject of child obesity. During his State of the Union address, President Obama focused the national spotlight on Mrs. Obama's upcoming campaign. Read about Surgeon General Regina Benjamin's report on combating obesity here. A post about the Healthy Kids Fair at the White House is here.
More of Kass as healthy eating video star: Kass is also featured in Mrs. Obama's official White House video about the Kitchen Garden, as well as a video about Hoop Houses in the garden. An early video salvo was a tour of the Kitchen Garden with Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, and then there's this old video cooking lesson, made for Chicago Public Television, during Kass's days as a private chef for the Obamas, pre-White House.