First Lady Michelle Obama & Let's Move!; Chefs Move to Schools; food labeling; federal feeding programs; the White House Farmers Market, policy changes...
At the Washington Ideas Forum today, held at DC's Newseum, First Lady Michelle Obama's Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass, and Zeke Emanuel, a special policy adviser to President Obama, discussed working with Mrs. Obama on school food issues, and a host of other food policy initiatives. They've both been deeply involved in the paradigm shift in food policy that's emerged from the White House, as crucial members of the foodiest administration in history.
"Sam is like a snow leopard," The Atlantic's Corby Kummer, the moderator, said as he introduced Kass. "We've been trying to get him here for yeeeaaaarsss." The forum was sponsored by The Atlantic and The Aspen Institute. (Above, from l: Kummer, Kass, Emanuel) The full session is below:
The challenges of Chefs Move...
Kass, who created and leads Mrs. Obama's Chefs Move To Schools initiative, told the audience that chefs should work directly with schools in order to improve the cafeteria menus, but he noted that it won't be easy. Kummer asked if there have been unexpected problems since the program launched in June. Of course, Kass answered.
Chefs have to break through barriers and overcome fear, as they move into schools, which are "big, autonomous places," Kass said.
"Change on this level is hard, and there's going to be pitfalls," Kass said. "But the excitement is just amazing."
"We need champions at every school," Kass added. He also noted that the success of the program will be measured by how many schools successfully enroll in the HealthierUs School Challenge.
Hundreds of chefs joined Mrs. Obama on the South Lawn on June 4 for the launch of the project. To date, 1,900 chefs have signed up to be part of Mrs. Obama's chef corps, she announced last week. There are about 1,300 schools enrolled. To put that in perspective: There are 95,000 public schools in America, and about 31 million children participate in the National School Lunch program.
"You'd like to make a lot of progress, but it ain't cheap"
Zeke Emanuel was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the White House Farmers Market. During his part of the chat, he discussed the role of federal agencies in nutrition policy, as well as the high cost of school lunches and breakfasts, noting that a lot of schools don't even have the money for kitchens. A group of cookware makers just donated $2 million worth of equipment to Chefs Move, but that's a drop in the bucket.
"You'd like to make a lot of progress, but it ain't cheap," Emanuel said. "That's a bit of a challenge."
*Video from The Atlantic; Kass photo by Obama Foodorama; top photo via Daniel Bowman Simon