Sunday, February 09, 2014

Happy Birthday, Let's Move!: Michelle Obama Launched The Campaign Four Years Ago Today

Mrs. Obama and kids at the White House launch event
A look back at the White House kick-off; the First Lady will celebrate later this month with a series of events and new announcements...
Washington, DC - "It’s time for a moment of truth for our country; it’s time we all had a wake-up call," First Lady Michelle Obama said as she launched the Let's Move! campaign from the State Dining Room of the snow-covered White House four years ago today on February 9, 2010.  Mrs. Obama will celebrate the campaign's birthday later this month with a series of events and new announcements, according to aides. 

Since 2010, the First Lady's wake-up call has become a massive national campaign, impacting millions of Americans, and involving more than a dozen federal agencies and dozens of private sector partners.  These include some of the nation's largest business entities, who have pledged millions of dollars in resources (the newest is Subway, with a $41 million commitment), as well as sports stars and celebrities.

With one in three children overweight or obese, according to the White House, the long-term, generational goal of Let's Move! is to reduce childhood obesity from the national prevalence of 17% to just 5% by 2030. 

Mrs. Obama gives a shoutout to the school kids at the launch
The pillars of the campaign...and a pledge to eradicate food deserts...
As Mrs. Obama unveiled her campaign in 2010, the State Dining Room was jammed to bursting with Members of Congress, Cabinet Secretaries, public health advocates, medical professionals, farmers, gardening experts, business leaders, and White House and agency officials, all invited for the big roll out. 

Standing before a huge video screen as a backdrop, with a group of school kids clad in Let's Move! t-shirts seated on the stage behind her, Mrs. Obama described the four "pillars" of her campaign: "Improving Access to Healthy, Affordable Food";  "Empowering Parents and Caregivers";  "Providing Healthy Foods In Schools"; and "Increasing Physical Activity."  In 2011, a fifth pillar was formally added: "Creating A Healthy Start For Children," designed to focus on interventions for children from birth to pre-school.

Parents and families have remained the centerpiece of Let's Move!, with initiatives created to help them follow the campaign's mantra:  "Making the healthier choice the easier choice."

During the launch event, Mrs. Obama unveiled USDA's Food Environment Atlas, which is now called "The Food Access Research Atlas." The web-based tool is designed to track so-called food deserts, and provide "a spatial overview" of "a community's ability to access healthy food and its success in doing so."  

Mrs. Obama in 2010 noted that it was a good way to visualize the 23.5 million Americans, including 6.5 million American children, who live in food deserts, which she defined as "'communities without a supermarket."  

She pledged to eradicate every US food desert by 2017.  Since 2010, she has devoted plenty of time to improving food access, and has the world's largest grocer signed on to help:  Walmart has committed to building up to 300 smaller grocery stores in areas near food deserts.

POTUS signs the memo creating the Childhood Obesity Task Force
President Obama creates the first-ever White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity...
The initiatives and partnerships for the Let's Move! campaign are guided by a White House report released in 2010. On the day of the launch, President Barack Obama signed a memorandum creating the first-ever White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity.  

The group is currently chaired by Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz, and members include Let's Move! Executive Director Sam Kass as well as Cabinet Secretaries Arne Duncan, Kathleen Sebelius, and Tom Vilsack.

Five months after the Task Force was created, in May of 2010 the group issued the White House Task Force Report on Childhood Obesity (PDF).  It is the "action plan" for the Let's Move! campaign, and all private-sector partnerships must follow the guidelines in the report.   In 2011, on the one-year anniversary of Let's Move!, the Task Force issued a One Year Progress Report [PDF]. No progress report has been released since.

The private sector commitments are now overseen by Partnership for a Healthier America, the independent foundation that supports Let's Move!.  Mrs. Obama serves as honorary chair.  Next month, she will keynote PHA's third annual national 'Building a Healthier Future' summit.

On the day of the launch, Mrs. Obama was introduced before her remarks by 12-year-old Tammy Nguyen, one of the students who worked in her Kitchen Garden.  Dr. Judith Palfrey, who briefly served as Let's Move! Executive Director, also spoke; she was president of the American Academy of Pediatrics at the time.  Urban farming expert Will Allen of Milwaukee, Wisconsin's, Growing Power was also a speaker, as was Mayor Joseph Curtatone of Somerville, MA.  Football star and NBC commentator Tiki Barber served as "emcee" for the event.

CLICK HERE for links to the 4,351 posts about Let's Move!.

Mrs. Obama's remarks at the kick-off event:

CLICK HERE for the transcript of Mrs. Obama's remarks.