Video: Govs. Ritter & Round help Kass slice & dice school nutrition policy...
Boston, MA: Today, a group of America's governors got a taste of what it would be like to have Sam Kass as their school lunch lady. The assistant White House chef and First Lady Michelle Obama's Food Initiative Coordinator was the special guest chef at the National Governors Association annual summer meeting, and he gave a cooking demo using ingredients that would be available in the federal feeding programs.
It was a bipartisan healthy bites party; Kass was joined onstage for the cooking demo at the Boston Sheraton by Colorado's Governor Bill Ritter (D) and South Dakota's Governor Mike Rounds (R). The slicing, dicing, and attendant policy chat was part of a special plenary session titled "Recipe for a Healthy Future: Examining Childhood Nutrition and Obesity." Included on the menu was a big pitch for the state execs to support the pending Congressional child nutrition reauthorization legislation. Forty of the nation's governors are attending the three-day conference, which is sponsored by private corporate donations.* (Above: Kass & Ritter)
Watch Kass & the Govs in action:
The cooking lesson featured a recipe for baked chicken breaded in whole grain flour, accompanied by fresh corn with brown rice, and green beans with caramelized onions. Kass stuck to a budget of $2.68, which is the per-meal reimbursement rate for the National School Lunch Program. He noted that the actual food cost of the meal would be $1.25, after deducting money for labor costs. It was the capper to the panel session, which was devoted to Let's Move!, Mrs. Obama's signature initiative.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack also spoke on the panel, and he and Kass spent their time discussing why school lunch legislation needs to be re-vamped, citing improved educational performance, and dramatically reducing state health care costs that arise from diet-related disease. (Above: Kass and the Govsin action)
In February, Mrs. Obama first encouraged the governors to join the Let's Move! campaign, when she spoke at the Winter meeting of their association, which is held annually in Washington. She's also addressed America's mayors, and in June, she launched Let's Move Cities and Towns, which helps communities re-think their approach to community health, with a focus on locally specific action.
On Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who is also addressing the NGA, visited The Food Project’s Urban Farm in Roxbury, MA, and lauded Boston Mayor Thomas Menino for putting $6.4 million in federal obesity-prevention grants to good use in the city, through encouraging the urban farm project and doubling funding for Boston's “Bounty Bucks” program, which will allow an additional 2,500 residents to use food stamps to buy produce at farmers’ markets. (Above: Sec. Sebelius speaks at the farm, as Mayor Menino looks on)
“Urban farms like this one, that are putting prevention to work, are really models for the rest of the country,” Sec. Sebelius said after touring the crop rows.
In November of 2009, Gov. Ritter and his wife, Jeannie, welcomed Mrs. Obama to Denver as she brought her high school girls' mentoring initiative to Colorado, for a special luncheon, held at the governor's mansion, that included a bevy of professionally accomplished women, politicos, and celebrities as mentors. In January of 2010, Gov. Ritter announced that he would not be seeking a second term as governor, in order to spend more time with his family. (Above: Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Ritter at the luncheon)
Other administration officials attend conference, too
On Sunday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and John Brennan, the President's counterterrorism adviser, will give the governors a classified national security briefing.
*Sponsors for the conference include Cassidy & Associates, a major Washington lobbying firm; defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corporation; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, and Raytheon Corporation.
Related: Kass cooked with Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan in September of 2009, during the launch of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. The NGA was honored with the annual Governor's Ball at the White House in February of 2010 and 2009, too.
*Top Kass/Gov. Ritter photo via AP; second photo, with Gov. Rounds via NGA; Sec. Sebelius by Boston Herald