Second dinner event of three-day anniversary tour stars USDA's nutrition campaign...
Ocoee, FLA: President Obama has made a habit of stopping by the homes of private citizens for coffee or breakfast as he's toured the country to campaign and promote his economic agenda. On Friday evening, First Lady Michelle Obama followed her husband's lead, motorcading from the airport in Orlando to join the Halls family for a chicken and vegetable dinner in their Spanish-style home. It was the first time Mrs. Obama has dined privately with a family in support of her childhood obesity initiative. The Halls, Kern, 37, and Patrice, 36, have two young boys who participated in the dinner event. (Above: Mrs. Obama checks out dinner with Kern Hall and his sons)
The dinner was the First Lady's sixth stop on her national three-day tour to celebrate the second anniversary of the Let's Move! campaign, and it promoted two Let's Move! goals: Families eating together, and the use of USDA's MyPlate nutrition campaign.
"At the White House, no matter what is going on, at 6:30 we stop everything, we have dinner together," Mrs. Obama said earlier in the day at a Let's Move!/WebMd forum.
"When the President travels, his goal is to get home in time for dinner."
Kern, according to the White House, is a retired Navy cook who "was warned by his doctor in recent years to change his eating habits, and he did so with the help of My Plate." Mrs. Obama unveiled the initiative last June. Created to support Let's Move!, MyPlate is designed to make it easy for Americans to follow the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and fill half their plates at every meal with fruits and vegetables. On Kern's dinner menu for the First Lady: "Slightly" jerked chicken, brown rice with peas, sauteed zuchini and squash, and a salad.
Mrs. Obama had had an outfit change from her WebMd event, and for dinner she was in her third ensemble of the day, a navy flowered dress and a bright blue sweater. The dress is from designer Jason Wu's much-coveted new Target collection, which sold out across the US (the dress retails for $39.99). As she arrived at the Halls' home, Mrs. Obama greeted the couple with hugs. She'd also handed out hugs as greetings when dining with eight parents on Thursday night at an Olive Garden restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas.
"Hi!" Mrs. Obama said to the Halls, mid-hug. "I feel like I know you. How are you? You're looking good."
The dinner was closed to press, but Mrs. Obama's pool reported what went on inside the family kitchen. The couple escorted Mrs. Obama to the sink, where she washed her hands. Nearby, a table was set for five.
"So what are we having?" Mrs. Obama asked.
Mr. Hall told her "slightly jerked chicken."
"Just slightly jerked?" Mrs. Obama asked with a laugh.
Then she greeted the two Halls' boys, Keian, 12, and Kamryn, 7. She asked them whether they helped cook dinner.
"No, ma'am," they replied in unison.
"Well, I'm looking forward to some of your dad's cooking," she replied.
The First Lady then took her seat at the table, sitting alone for an awkward moment, facing a phalanx of cameras and microphones (Ed. note: Because the dinner will be used in promotional materials for Let's Move!).
The family soon joined her, and she peppered them with questions. "What grades are you guys in? How's school going? How are you doing? What grades are you getting?"
"All A's," said Keian. "All S's," said Kamryn. Asked what S stood for, Kamryn said, "for being good."
"It's just so nice to sit down," Mrs. Obama said, before asking Mr. Halls to tell her about how he had changed his eating habits. After telling the First Lady that he had played baseball and football in high school, Halls talked about how felt he needed to change his diet and lose weight. (Above: The press pool was ushered out after being allowed to watch Mrs. Obama saying grace before dinner)
Mrs. Obama turned to boys and asked them how they were adjusting to the new menus at home.
"I've lost weight from the healthier choices," Keian said, noting that he no longer eats chips and junk food. Kamryn agreed.
"We went through the same thing in my house," Mrs. Obama said. "It took a second for the girls to adjust."
Then First Lady and the Halls said grace, and Mr. Halls lifted the lids off several steaming pots. The press pool was them ushered out.
Since starting her tour on Thursday, Mrs. Obama has traveled about 3,615 miles, which included stops in Des Moines, Iowa, Little Rock, Arkansas, Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas, and Homestead, Florida. Four of the eight events are in Florida, a battleground state for the 2012 election; Mrs. Obama was last in Florida on Jan. 26, to unveil a Let's Move! commitment from Goya Foods, and President Obama visited the state in January, too. The First Lady is being accompanied on her tour by Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass; her Chief of Staff, Tina Tchen; top Domestic Policy Advisor, Jocelyn Frye; Communications Director, Kristina Schake; and Press Secretary Hannah August, among others. Members of the White House new media team and photographers are capturing the action.