Monday, December 13, 2010

White House Sends Out Lauds For Child Nutrition Bill From Cabinet Secretaries, Chefs, Advocates, & Two High-Profile GOP Members...

From Michael Pollan to Mike Huckabee, Cory Booker to Cat Cora, White House notes glowing statements from members of massive coalition that supported the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act 2010
After President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attended this morning's special bill signing ceremony for the $4.5 billion Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, the White House released a document with quotes from a wide range of high-profile child health, nutrition advocates and experts, celebrity chefs, as well as Cabinet Secretaries.

It's a savvy public relations move, similar to the e-mail bombardment journalists have been getting about politicos who support the President's tax deal. There have been dozens of those, each sent individually, but the lauds for the school lunch bill were all sent out together (reporters got snarky on Twitter about the reams of individual tax deal e mails). It's a government version of a publisher blurbing a book, fed style. (Above: Cat Cora is on the blurb list; she's in Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden in June, during the launch of Chefs Move to Schools)

The blurbers include Mike Huckabee, the Republican Governor of Arkansas 1996-2007; bestselling food writer Michael Pollan; celeb chefs Cat Cora, Tom Colicchio, and José Andrés; military brass, and Secretaries Vilsack, Sebelius, and Duncan. All three Secretaries joined the President and Mrs. Obama today at the signing ceremony. The celeb chefs on the list have all guest cheffed at the White House, but aside from that, they're very active in child nutrition issues. Pollan needs virtually no introduction, as the best-selling author of culture-changing books about food and farming. There are other high profile advocates and faith leaders on the list too. Mrs. Obama just launched Let's Move Faith and Communities, which will be a huge initiative in the coming years.

Huckabee is perhaps the most high-profile GOP member on the list; Mrs. Obama appeared on his self-monikered show on Fox News last February. Former US Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) also weighs in; he's one of the vice chairs of Partnership For a Healthier America, the non-profit that supports Let's Move!. At today's bill signing ceremony, there was one lone Republican onstage with the President and Mrs. Obama, Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA).

The laudacious blurbs:

“Today is a great day for kids throughout our country as they will soon have healthier, and more nutritious food in their schools. As we continue to focus on the twin issues of childhood obesity and hunger, we will increase access to good, quality meals in school cafeterias so the nutritional needs of our youngsters are better met. The President and First Lady have advocated strongly for passing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, and, this bill, along with the resources and the powers provided under it, are going to allow USDA to be much more effective and aggressive in responding to obesity and hunger challenges for America’s kids.”
- U.S. Secretary Of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

“Congratulations to First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and to the bi-partisan support in the Congress to pass the Healthy, Hunger Free Children Act. By passing a bill that addresses the nutritional quality of school lunches, an important step is being taken to give children choices that will make them healthier and more productive.”
-Mike Huckabee, Governor of Arkansas 1996-2007

“The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is a significant step forward in our effort to help America's children thrive and grow to be healthy adults. Thanks to the dedication of this Congress and First Lady Michelle Obama, more kids will have access to healthy, balanced, nutritious school lunches. By increasing the number of students eligible to enroll in school meal programs and improving the quality of food served, this legislation simultaneously tackles both hunger and the obesity levels currently affecting too many communities across this nation.”
-U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius

"The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act makes the most significant investment in the National School Lunch program in more than 30 years. I look forward to continuing to work with the First Lady and Secretary Vilsack to combat our national childhood obesity epidemic and increase students access to the nutritional food they need to help them learn.”
- U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

“Today's signing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is something to celebrate, whether you are one of the 31 million schoolchildren who stand to benefit from it, or their parents, or America’s farmers. The bill establishes sensible nutrition standards for the food sold in school that will help push the junk food out of the building and make it easier for kids to have access to a nutritious meal or snack in school. The increase in funding for school lunch may be modest, yet it is also the first such increase in sixty years—a long-overdue recognition of the importance of the school lunch program in assuring the health of our children. The bill also recognizes the value of linking farms directly to schools as a way to get the freshest, tastiest vegetables and fruits into the cafeteria—a boon to both children and local farmers. The bill represents an important achievement for the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign, and the First Lady and her team are to be congratulated. It is also a victory for all the grass roots organizations and activists who work so hard to improve access to healthy food for everyone. There is still much to be done, but what has happened today marks a significant step forward, toward a food system that puts the health of our children first.”
–Michael Pollan, Author and Journalism Professor

“As Vice Chair of the Partnership for a Healthier America, I join President Obama and the First Lady in celebrating the signing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. This bi-partisan legislation will significantly enhance the quality of food for our children for generations to come and is a dramatic step forward in reducing childhood obesity. As a physician, I know smart nutrition leads to healthy and productive lives. With 36.5% of our children in Tennessee being overweight, this act goes a long way in ensuring that kids in Tennessee and around the country will have the healthy nutrition they deserve.”
- U.S. Senator Bill Frist (R-TN)
Ed. Note: Frist is one of the vice chairs of Partnership For a Healthier America, the non-profit that supports Let's Move!.

“From the First Lady’s Chefs Move to Schools initiative to the President’s Childhood Nutrition bill, the Obama Administration has instigated a much-needed attitude change towards proper nutrition. As a chef and as a mother of four, I understand the importance of providing my own children with wholesome meals and firmly believe that all of our nation’s children should be afforded the same opportunity to grow up healthy which is why this legislation is so important.”
-Cat Cora, Founder, “Chefs for Humanity” and UNICEF spokesperson
Ed. Note: Cora was at the launch of Chefs Move to Schools, and she also guest cheffed for the White House's Greek Independence Day Reception

“Childhood and adult obesity are national problems and growing epidemics, but the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act will help end this epidemic by improving the quality of food served to our children in schools across the nation. Here in Newark, we are defeating childhood and adult obesity, by partnering with organizations and community leaders to create local-based change that empowers families, neighborhoods and youth to embrace a healthier lifestyle. I applaud First Lady Michelle Obama’s commitment to the children of our city and across the country.”
- Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark, New Jersey
Ed. Note: Booker, with Frist, is one of the vice chairs of Partnership For a Healthier America, the non-profit that supports Let's Move!. Mrs. Obama visited Newark in November, accompanied by Booker (above).

“On behalf of Mission: Readiness and over 100 retired generals and admirals who support child nutrition legislation as a matter of national security, we are very pleased that the nation has taken this important step in addressing the nation’s obesity epidemic. Being overweight or obese is the No. 1 medical reason why young men and women are unable to join the military. Research shows that up to 40 percent of what children consume every day takes place during school hours and that 80 percent of children who were overweight between the ages of 10 to 15 were obese by age 25. The final bill includes provisions that can get junk food out of schools, nourish more kids who need healthful meals and motivate them and their parents to adopt healthful eating and exercise habits. Military concerns about the fitness of American children are not new. When the National School Lunch Act was first passed in 1946, it was seen as a matter of national security. At the time many military leaders recognized that poor nutrition was a significant factor reducing the pool of qualified candidates for service. Our country is facing another serious health crisis. Obesity rates threaten the overall health of America and the future strength of our military. We must act, as we did after World War II, to ensure that our children can one day defend our country, if need be.”
-Retired Army Generals John M. Shalikashvili and Hugh Shelton, Former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

“The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act makes significant progress toward ending child hunger and obesity by expanding access to federal child nutrition programs and improving the nutritional value they provide. In addition to reauthorizing federal child nutrition programs, the act will help address childhood obesity by reducing the fat and calorie content of school meals. Reversing the childhood obesity epidemic in a single generation – as First Lady Michelle Obama has called upon our nation to do – won’t be easy. It will require a long-term, sustained commitment to attacking this issue across multiple fronts. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act makes great strides toward eliminating this threat to our children's health.”
- O. Marion Burton, MD, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics

“The historic signing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act helps schools become part of the solution to the childhood obesity epidemic. It is a victory for American parents working to make sure their kids grow up healthy, and for schools wanting to provide students with more nutritious meals and a healthier environment. With the implementation of this law, our nation's kids will be less likely to grow up with early risk factors for heart disease and stroke.”
-Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer, American Heart Association

“Today marks a major step forward in efforts to prevent both childhood obesity and hunger among our nation’s children. The signing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law is a long-awaited victory for the 31 million students who participate in federal school meal programs. By giving the USDA the authority to update standards for all foods and beverages in schools, this new law says unhealthy foods have no place in our nation’s schools. And schools finally will have more resources to serve nutritious and appealing meals.”
- Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

“Getting junk food out of schools has been ten years in the making. This bill is a historic step toward reducing childhood obesity and helping parents' feed their children better. It's the result of the hard work of many, but would not have passed without this Administration. The President's leadership and First Lady's tireless advocacy brought the child nutrition bill back to life a number of times as it made its way through Congress.”
-Margo G. Wootan, Director of Nutrition Policy, Center for Science in the Public Interest

“The School Nutrition Association joins families nationwide in thanking President Obama, the First Lady and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for their sustained efforts to pass child nutrition reauthorization and expand children’s access to healthy school meals. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act recognizes the importance of school meals to the health and academic success of America’s children and gives school nutrition programs critical resources to bring more fresh produce, whole grains and low-fat dairy products into cafeterias. School nutrition professionals look forward to working with the Administration, parents, principals and community leaders to meet new nutrition standards for school meals and explore new avenues for promoting healthy lifestyles for our children.”
- Nancy Rice, M.Ed., RD, LD, SNS, President, School Nutrition Association (SNA)

“The provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act will support efforts already underway in Dallas. The additional funding will help with continuing to improve our school meals and creating a healthier school environment. We appreciate the fact that child nutrition has been placed as a high priority by the First Lady and the President. New USDA meal patterns and professional standards will assure improved quality child nutrition programs for our children which in turn will support student academic performance in the classroom.”
-Dora Rivas, MS, RD, SNS, Executive Director, Food & Child Nutrition Services, Dallas Independent School District

“Our kids aren’t hungry because we lack food or because of a lack of food and nutrition programs. They are hungry because they lack access to programs that provide the nutritious food they need to grow and thrive. I would like to thank the President and First Lady for making Child Nutrition a top priority. Through their leadership and commitment we now have the first significant change in school meals in thirty years. This legislation is historic and will allow me to continue to offer more real foods to the kids in our schools.”
- Timothy Cipriano, Executive Director of Food Services, New Haven Public Schools
Ed. Note: Cipriano joined Vilsack and Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass on a conference call for media last Friday, explaining the legislation

“I am pleased to support President and Mrs. Obama and the efforts of their Administration in securing healthier nutrition for this nation's children. We still have much work to do to guarantee that all Americans have access to adequate, high-quality food, but the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is an important first step in that direction."
-Tom Colicchio, Chef/Restaurateur and Host of Top Chef
Ed. Note: Colicchio testified before Congress in support of the legislation. Colicchio also featured Kass as a guest judge on a special episode of this season's Top Chef, about, naturally, school lunches.

“The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signals a deep commitment to our nation's children and provides increased access to the food and nutrition programs that often go underutilized. Our kids aren't hungry because we lack food or because of a lack of food and nutrition programs. They are hungry because they lack access to the nutritious food they need to grow and thrive. The First Lady’s persistence made all the difference between this legislation’s good intentions and its becoming the law of the land.”
-Bill Shore, Founder and Executive Director, Share Our Strength
Ed. Note: Shore and his non-profit were crucial to organizing the White House launch for the Chefs Move to Schools initiative in June

“This bill is an acknowledgement that in a nation as bountiful as ours, no child should worry about when their next meal will be. We are grateful for the hard work of our coalition partners, the White House, and Congress.”
-Rabbi Steve Gutow, President, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Co-Chair Fighting Poverty with Faith

"This bill is an exciting victory for hungry children. After a largely gridlocked year, passage of this bill is a positive sign that Congress can work together in the best interests of Americans."
-Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

“This critical legislation ensures that more of our nation’s children have access to healthy nutritious food and reaffirms our commitment as a nation to addressing the problem of childhood hunger. It is unacceptable that one in four childrenin poverty in America are hungry. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is an essential step in helping the 43.6 million American families who struggle every day to feed their children.”
- Father Larry Snyder, President, Catholic Charities USA, Co-chair Fighting Poverty with Faith

“The way we feed our children today will dictate the country we have tomorrow. This was much more than a bipartisan effort. With the First Lady’s leadership, parents, teachers, child advocates and chefs all helped to pass a bill that will provide a children with what should be a fundamental right: the right to be fed in a healthy way. While I am happy we were able to squeeze a few more dollars for school lunch programs, I think we can do better. We need to band together on these issues to make sure we don’t shortchange our kids.”
- José Andrés, Principal, Think Food Group

>Read the White House fact sheet abut the bill [PDF]

>A White House sample of what a new school lunch menu will look like is here [PDF]

>The full transcript and a video of the President and First Lady's remarks today is here.

*Photo of Cat Cora by EGK/Obama Foodorama