In Georgia, Mrs. Obama calls on parents to influence politicians and corporations to build out the campaign in Year Two: "We have a voice..."
First Lady Michelle Obama marked the one year anniversary of the Let's Move! campaign on Wednesday, with an afternoon visit to Georgia. She visited Burgess-Peterson Academy in Atlanta, and North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, a northern suburb. Mrs. Obama met with youngsters and toured the school's garden before giving an impassioned speech to a huge audience at the church, where she called on parents to use their power to pressure politicians and the corporate world to continue the success of Let's Move! in Year Two of the campaign. (Above: Mrs. Obama during her remarks at North Point)
>In this post, experts weigh in on the campaign at the one-year mark.
The Power To The Parents speech...
The campaign has had a huge impact in Year One, Mrs. Obama told a cheering crowd in the church auditorium. They'd been primed by musical performances before Mrs. Obama showed up.
"Over this past year, we’ve seen the first signs of a fundamental shift in how we live and eat," Mrs. Obama said. "We’ve seen changes at every level of our society – from classrooms, to boardrooms, to the halls of Congress."
The First Lady ticked off the campaign achievements, telling the crowd that the Let's Move! initiatives are based on what parents asked for. She reminded the crowd of corporate commitments for the campaign, and the passage of its legislative centerpiece, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which provides sweeping changes in America's school cafeterias. She credited parent activism for those success.
“The truth is that executives at Walmart didn’t wake up one morning and decide to promote healthier products just for fun," Mrs. Obama said. "And folks in Congress didn’t write the most sweeping child nutrition legislation in decades because they had extra time on their hands. They did this because folks like us stood up and asked for those changes.”
Last month, when Mrs. Obama and Walmart executives unveiled a five-year pledge to cut 25% of the salt and 10% of added sugars in processed products by 2015, and to cut $1 billion in costs to lower the prices of fresh fruit and vegetables over the next five years, Mrs. Obama hailed the commitment as "a victory for folks across America." On Tuesday, during an anniversary luncheon with reporters from the print press corps, Mrs. Obama said that Walmart had joined Let's Move! because it was a savvy business decision for the grocery giant, which has 140 million customers each week.
"This is a business move for them and we know it," Mrs. Obama said.
"We have a voice"
The First Lady urged parents to continue to use their collective bargaining power to sway political leaders and the American marketplace, to get more fresh foods--properly labeled--into grocery stores at an affordable price, and create healthier communities.
"If there’s one message I want to send to parents today, it’s this: we have a voice," Mrs. Obama told the cheering crowd at North Point Community Church. "And when we come together and use that voice, we can change the way companies do business. We can change the way Congress makes laws. We can transform our schools and our neighborhoods and our cities."
She also pointed out that political action is very personal when it comes to child health issues.
"For parents like us, this isn’t just a public health threat. It’s not just some abstract issue that we read about in the newspaper," Mrs. Obama said. "This is personal. This is emotional. It’s one of those things that keeps us lying awake at night."
Mrs. Obama's speech was built on the ideas of legendary food movement thinker/farmer/conservationist/author Wendell Berry, as well as bestselling author Michael Pollan. Both have cited personal choice in the marketplace as a way of pulling the reformist levers of the food system in order to create a healthier and sustainable food system. Pollan's work built on Berry's work, and now the First Lady is standing on the shoulders of both giants.
Activism is also a patriotic duty for Americans, the First Lady added, noting that the country faces long-term failure if the campaign's successes don't continue.
"We’re doing this for our grand children and for their children. That’s what we do in America and ultimately that’s what we’re aiming to do with ‘Let’s Move!," Mrs. Obama said.
North Point was chosen for the speech because Mrs. Obama is hoping that faith-based organizations will join the Let's Move! campaign in a major way: Let's Move Faith and Communities is one of the campaign's largest sub-initiatives. The project brings religious organizations and community groups into the Let's Move! fold. The event was co-hosted by Ray of Hope Christian Church.
"If we can do all this in the first year just imagine what we’ll achieve next year, and the year after that," Mrs. Obama said, as she ended her speech.
*Click here for the full transcript of Mrs. Obama remarks.
The school visit
Before her speech, Mrs. Obama told a group of excited Burgess-Preston second graders that President Obama's favorite fruit snack is figs. She and the kids snacked on fresh blueberries together in their classroom, and the First Lady reminded the kids that they need to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
"We're going to need you to be big and strong because we need you to grow up and do important things," Mrs. Obama said.
The school has a USDA grant that provides fresh fruit and vegetables daily to students, and the student-run garden supplements that. Mrs. Obama toured the garden with a group of first graders, who showed the First Lady their efforts in the three-year-old plot, created by the school's physical fitness and wellness teacher. The 240 kids at the school begin the day with a "jammin minute" of exercise followed by a healthy eating tip.
On Wednesday morning, Mrs. Obama was in New York City, where she appeared on the Today show and on Live with Regis and Kelly to speak about the campaign anniversary. Watch the First Lady's Let's Move! anniversary video. Here's a video of Mrs. Obama during her classroom visit at Burgess-Peterson Academy. A look at Let's Move! at six months is here. A look at the new PSA campaign is here.
The White House video of the First Lady's remarks:
*Top photos by Reuters; third by Samantha Appleton/White House