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Student Ambassadors Teach MyPlate on College Campuses Nationwide - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 06:51
Posted by:  Jackie Haven, MS, RD, USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion

Ed. Note: This blog was originally posted on To view the full post, click here.

The MyPlate On Campus initiative, USDA’s effort to promote healthy eating on college campuses nationwide through peer-to-peer education, launched 1 year ago. In that time, nearly 2,000 students, representing all 50 states, have joined the cause by becoming MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors. It has been exciting to watch it grow and see the creative ways that students are bringing nutrition education to life on their campus. Read below about how one group of passionate students is helping to spread the MyPlate message:

The RU Healthy Dining Team hosted a MyPlate nutrition education booth earlier this year. (Jenna Deinzer, Alexa Essenfeld, Nathalie Corres, Jesse Tannehill, Lindsay Yoakam, Rebecca Tonnessen, Taylor Palm, Mary Tursi, and Miranda Schlitt.)

By Rebecca Tonnessen and Alex Essenfeld, MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors at Rutgers University, New Jersey

As nutrition students at Rutgers University, we are all excited and passionate about being MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors. Working with dining services and the nutrition department in a joint effort to educate our peers, the RU Healthy Dining team strives to educate the Rutgers community through nutritional booths, newsletters, and outreach programs. As MyPlate Ambassadors and nutrition leaders, we integrate MyPlate into our activities. Our newsletters incorporate MyPlate tips and are distributed to our student body in the dining halls.

Our recent nutrition education booth focused on MyPlate. Educational materials were made available to the students, including MyPlate tip sheets, a life size MyPlate plate, and our own newsletters. We displayed a poster that featured healthy dining hall eating tips provided by MyPlate’s 10 tips for eating healthy in the dining hall resource. Students coming in and out of the dining halls came up to the booth to participate in our featured game: MyPlate Match up. Students had to flip over MyPlate cards until they found a matching food group. We then tested the participant’s nutritional knowledge by asking the player two questions about that particular food group. We all had a great time sharing and learning nutrition information with our peers. Everyone was excited about the prizes, which were MyPlate erasers.

Excited Rutgers student, Rebecca Bissessar, enjoying her prizes after participating in our MyPlate game!

A challenging aspect of being a MyPlate On Campus Ambassador is getting students involved and excited about nutrition. To overcome this, we have found that social media sites are great tools to communicate and educate. We interact with our students through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and WordPress. We hold contests to encourage students to interact with us and eat healthier. Recently we held “Promotion Commotion” in which the more times a student interacted with one of our social media sites the more likely they were to win a prize. Students asked questions and took pictures of their healthy dining hall meals and either tagged us in the pictures or used the hashtag #ruhdt. The lucky winners received Rutgers swag bags filled with nutritious snacks. The enthusiasm of the students who participated in our contest really makes what we do a fulfilling experience.

We plan to continue using MyPlate and incorporate it into our events, newsletters, and social media sites in more creative ways in our efforts to get our students excited about nutrition. Like us on Facebook page (RU Healthy Dining Team) and follow our Twitter (@RUHDT) and Instagram (@ru_hdt) accounts to stay up-to-date on our MyPlate Ambassador adventures! 

The RU Healthy Dining Team hosted a MyPlate nutrition education booth earlier this year.

Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy: Let’s Move! - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:40
Posted by:  Kasie Coccaro

Just over four years ago, First Lady Michelle Obama started Let’s Move! to help address rising childhood obesity rates in the U.S. But the First Lady wasn’t the first person in the White House to focus on the health of our nation’s kids.

Back in 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was inspired by an international study that found American children to be less fit than children in other countries, and so he launched the President’s Council on Youth Fitness, or Executive Order 10673. When President Kennedy took office in 1961, he recommitted his Administration to the effort and launched an official U.S. Physical Fitness Program encouraging nationwide participation. In a video address to the American people, President Kennedy said:

I hope all of you will join in a great national effort to build a strong and better America, through physical effort and through the contributions we can make by the drive and force we bring into our daily lives.

Now here’s where Superman comes in.

In 1963, the Kennedy Administration collaborated with DC Comics and legendary comic book artist Al Plastino (who had been drawing the red-caped, super-strong comic book hero for almost 20 years) to create a Superman story that would inspire the nation to be physically active and eat healthier. The comic book, “Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy,” was put on hold after President Kennedy’s death, but later published as a tribute to the late President.

Over 50 years later, the rare Superman comic is making a comeback. After Al Plastino passed away in December 2013, DC Comics donated the never-before-displayed original artwork for the story to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. You can check out the special exhibit through September 1, 2014 and learn more about it here.

Let’s Move! is excited to bring you a selection of the drawings right here. In the comic President Kennedy says, "We must show our youngsters that everyone has to keep fit ­­­­­­– not just sports heroes! Once we lose our physical alertness, our mental awareness will vanish as well!” We couldn't agree more!

[View the story "Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy" on Storify]

Do the Rex Two-Step! - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 11:15
Posted by:  Kasie Coccaro

Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton in the Dinosaurs hall of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. (Photo: John Gibbons, Smithsonian)

Yesterday, an exciting new addition to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History arrived: a 66.5 million year old Tyrannosaurus rex.

In honor of the T. rex’s arrival, the Smithsonian is encouraging people to get up and dance. They’ve teamed up with Alaskan artist and musician Ray Troll and his band, The Ratfish Wranglers, to create “National Rex,” an original song celebrating the dinosaur’s arrival and they want you to send in a 30 second video dancing to your own original “Rex Two-Step.”

To participate, all you have to do is listen to the song, get inspired, and start moving. Whether your dance involves classical steps or a modern flare, as long as you’re moving and having fun, you could be featured on Twitter (@NMNH) or Facebook! Check out all the rules, and follow along with the hashtag #rexstep!

Here at Let’s Move!, we’re all for getting active, and dancing is a great way to add activity to your daily routine. So why not grab a camera and show the T. rex how you move?

Watch: The First Lady Plants the Sixth Annual White House Kitchen Garden - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 15:02
Posted by:  Kelly Miterko, Deputy Associate Director, Let’s Move!

This year, First Lady Michelle Obama joined local students and FoodCorps co-founders and service members to plant the sixth annual White House Kitchen Garden.

Check out all the action from the planting:

Stay tuned for our summer harvest to see how all of the delicious fruits and vegetables grow over the next few months.

Inspired to start your own garden this spring? Check out our Gardening Guide which has all the information you need to get started. Whether you’re interested in starting a kitchen garden in your own backyard, a school garden at your child’s school, or a community garden for all of your neighbors to enjoy, here are your checklists with everything you need to get planting:

First Lady Michelle Obama Chooses Winners of Easter Egg Roll Poster Contest - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 13:03
Posted by:  Alex May-Sealey, Staff Assistant, Visitors Office

First Lady Michelle Obama has picked the winning designs of this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll Poster Contest.  Elementary and middle school students from across the country submitted entries that featured artwork relating to this year’s theme “Hop into Healthy, Swing into Shape.”  Posters will be handed out as a prize to children who win the Easter Egg Roll or Egg Hunt, and programs will be distributed to all guests at the event.

2014 Easter Egg Roll Poster Artwork

Daxton DiMuzio is an 11-year-old from Hampton Roads Academy in Newport News, Virginia. His artwork was chosen as the 2014 Official Easter Egg Roll Poster.  Dax likes to stay healthy and keep active by getting outside. He enjoys running, basketball, and playing lacrosse with his friends. 

2014 Easter Egg Roll Program Cover Artwork

Carmen Mazyck is a 14-year-old from Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, Virginia. Her artwork was chosen as the 2014 Official Easter Egg Roll Program Cover. Carmen enjoys playing volleyball and eating healthy. Some of her favorite foods are fruits and vegetables, especially strawberries and apples. 

The 2014 Easter Egg Roll will be held on Monday, April 21 on the South Lawn of the White House. Poster contest submissions were asked to incorporate the event theme “Hop into Healthy, Swing into Shape” promoting health and wellness in support of Let’s Move!.

It's the White House Easter Egg Roll! - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 09:15
Posted by:  Kasie Coccaro

It's almost time for the 136th annual White House Easter Egg Roll, and Bo and Sunny gave us the go-ahead to reveal some of the special guests who will be joining them on the South Lawn! Jim Carrey, Ariana Grande, Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri, and Cookie Monster will all be there, and we've still got a few more surprises up our sleeves.

Watch on YouTube

The theme for this year's Easter Egg Roll is "Hop into Healthy, Swing into Shape,” and in support of Let’s Move! many of the day’s activities promote healthy living for kids and families. We'll be out there dancing to live music, getting active on the sports courts, and cooking some fresh and healthy food throughout the day, and we look forward to everyone joining in the fun!.

You can watch all of the day's events live on on April 21 and head over to for more information about the history of the Easter Egg Roll and the special Bo and Sunny themed keepsake eggs.

And don't forget to follow along on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #EasterEggRoll.

You're Invited: White House Easter Egg Roll Social - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:25
Posted by:  Kasie Coccaro, Associate Director of Online Outreach, Office of Digital Strategy

On Monday, April 21, 2014, the First Family will host the 136th annual White House Easter Egg Roll. This year’s theme is “Hop into Healthy, Swing into Shape,” and more than 30,000 people will assemble on the South Lawn to join in the fun. For our next White House Social, we are giving our followers of @LetsMove and @FLOTUS on Twitter, or @MichelleObama on Instagram, a chance to attend. 

Interested in attending the White House Easter Egg Roll? Sign up for your chance to join us and learn more about the history of the White House Easter Egg Roll at All applicants must have children ages 5 to 13. 

After you sign up, help spread the word! Let your followers know that you submitted your entry for the #EasterEggRoll Social.

Team USA All The Way! The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Athletes Visit the White House - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 09:18
Posted by:  Kelly Miterko, Deputy Associate Director, Let’s Move!

Yesterday, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted members of the United States Olympic and Paralympic teams at the White House to commemorate their exemplary performance during the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Jon Lujan, Paralympic Alpine skier and Marine veteran, and Julie Chu, Olympic ice hockey player present President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama with an Olympic and Paralympic flag, during an event to welcome United States teams and delegations from the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi to the East Room of the White House, April 3, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Team USA had an outstanding finish at this year’s Winter Olympics, ranking 2nd overall with a total of 28 medals, and the Paralympic team stood 3rd overall having received 18 medals.  Our Nation’s Olympic athletes inspire Americans across the country and around the world to strive for excellence and pursue their dreams. And most importantly, Olympians are outstanding role models for our Nation’s youth. They know firsthand that what they eat and how active they are impacts their performance in everything they do.

"As Olympic and Paralympic athletes, you also know that a big part of reaching your full potential is making sure that you’re putting the right fuel in your body.  You all know that better than anyone in this country, that what you eat absolutely makes a difference in how you perform." Mrs. Obama said.

During their visit to the White House, we teamed up with the Olympians and Paralympians to highlight the importance of eating healthy. Stay tuned for more to come from Let’s Move! and Team USA!

Check out the video from Team USA’s visit:

Spring has Sprung: The Sixth Annual White House Garden Planting - Thu, 04/03/2014 - 11:09
Posted by:  Elyse Cohen, Deputy Director, Let’s Move!

Yesterday, the First Lady welcomed local students and FoodCorps leaders on the South Lawn for the sixth annual planting of the White House Kitchen Garden. The garden was first planted in 2009 to commence a nationwide conversation on healthy eating and inspired the First Lady to launch Let’s Move!

First Lady Michelle Obama helps students water newly planted vegetables as she joins FoodCorps leaders and local students for the spring garden planting in the White House Kitchen Garden, April 2, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

At this year’s planting, the First Lady hosted the founders of FoodCorps, a program dedicated to teaching our nation’s children about healthy food while ensuring they have access to it during the school day. This fall, FoodCorps members will serve DC-area schools including Cleveland Elementary School, Friendship Public Charter School, and Kimball Elementary School—and students from these schools accompanied FoodCorps at the garden planting. In addition, students from Bancroft Elementary School and Harriet Tubman Elementary School who have participated in previous White House Garden events, also attended this year’s planting.

We are excited to see that more and more people are now planting vegetable gardens across the nation. According to a report released yesterday by The National Gardening Association,

  • 35% of all households in America are growing food at home or in a community garden, a 17% increase in participation in the last five years.
  • 2 million more households are engaging in community gardening, an increase of 200% since 2008.

In addition, the first ever White House Pollinator Garden was planted to support bees, monarch butterflies, and other pollinators. Nearly two-thirds of the foods we often consume are pollinated by bees, so we rely on bees for much of our food. Therefore, it’s important to have plants in the garden that support pollination, like the ones that were planted yesterday. This garden will also serve to raise awareness of the major environmental threats currently facing pollinators across the nation.

First Lady Michelle Obama joins FoodCorps leaders and local students for the spring garden planting in the White House Kitchen Garden, April 2, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Interested in joining the millions of Americans who have started planting vegetable gardens? The First Lady has put together a Kitchen Garden Checklist that provides you with easy to follow instructions on how to start a vegetable garden at your home. Planting a vegetable garden is a great project for the entire family, allowing children to learn while also providing healthy and delicious fruits and vegetables for meals this season.

Boston’s Public Health Commission Healthy Child Care Initiative - Tue, 03/25/2014 - 12:30
Posted by:  Boston Public Health Commission and Boston Healthy Childcare Initiative

As part of the Boston Public Health Commission, the Boston Healthy Child Care Initiative (BHCCI) is helping programs implement best approaches to support healthy eating and physical activity for young children using evidence-based practices, including Let’s Move! Child Care.

Since 2012, Boston has offered providers training and funding to improve their practices around the Let’s Move! Child Care goals. Child care providers from centers and family child care homes are invited to attend free two-part workshops that cover nutrition and physical activity based on the Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care, offered in both English and Spanish. The providers can earn child care educator continuing education units through the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care. Then, using the Let’s Move! Child Care Checklist Quiz, they can create an action plan and set their own goals for improvement for the next 3-6 months.

Sixteen child care providers were recently honored with the Mayor’s Boston Healthy Child Care Recognition Award for achieving eight Let’s Move! Child Care best-practices for fruits and vegetable intake, screen-time reduction, infant feeding, and physical activity.  Here are success stories from 3 of the recognized child care programs:

Cribs and Cradle Family Child Care, Dorchester, MA

Staff from Cribs and Cradle Family Child Care pose for Mayor’s Boston Healthy Child Care Recognition Award (Boston Public Health Commission).

At Cribs and Cradle Family Childcare, great improvements have been made in the area of nutrition and physical activity since participating in the Boston Healthy Childcare Initiative. Director Claudette White immediately started to implement healthy changes. Prior to the workshop, the television was turned on daily. Now, the center provides structured activity time and increased outdoor play, games and crafts. The children are more physically active and enjoy quality television viewing just once a week for 30 minutes. In addition, Claudette increased outdoor play to 2 times per day for 45 minutes each. When the weather keeps the children indoors, Claudette uses toys/games that keep the children moving.

Claudette has also made changes in the way the kids are eating by replacing refined grains with whole grains twice each day and offering veggies twice a day. Meals are served family style with staff sitting at the table and eating the same foods as the children. In addition, holidays and birthdays are celebrated with healthier food choices, such as fruit salad, bite size sandwiches, cheese cubes, or vegetables and dip.

Paradise Family Day Care, Hyde Park, MA

Paradise Family Day Care owner and staff receive Mayor’s Boston Healthy Child Care Recognition Award (Boston Public Health Commission).

Paradise Family Day Care owner Mencia Quinonez has made great improvements in her family childcare program. She dedicated a small room in her family daycare to provide a private space for moms who choose to breastfeed, and with the help of Boston Public Health Commission staff, she transformed the room by adding pillows, a lamp for additional lighting, and breastfeeding posters. In addition, breastfeeding brochures obtained from the local WIC office provide additional information and resources.

S.M.I.L.E. Preschool, Roxbury, MA

SMILE Preschool staff receive Mayor’s Boston Healthy Child Care Recognition Award (Boston Public Health Commission).

At S.M.I.L.E. Preschool, staff has decreased the amount of sugar kids are consuming by serving 100% juice only twice a week. On the other days, fruit is provided. Chocolate milk has been replaced with low-fat milk. In addition, sweetened snacks have been replaced with more fresh fruits, yogurt, and whole grain products.  And, water is now available and visible to children throughout the day, thanks to a staffer who found extra pitchers in a storage closet!  And lastly, an underutilized room was turned into a space for breastfeeding mothers.

Let’s Move! Child Care applauds Chico State for increasing opportunities in preschool physical activity - Fri, 03/21/2014 - 09:37
Posted by:  Pamela Bryant, Health Communications Specialist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

California State University at Chico (Chico State) has made great strides with a two-year grant from the California Department of Health’s Obesity Prevention Program (COPP).  Chico State is putting policy into action and helping to prevent obesity in low-income preschool settings. Through its Center for Nutrition and Activity Promotion (CNAP), Chico State has worked with child care facilities and organizations and early education staff to implement best practices for physical activity. It has also conducted pilot research on an inexpensive solution to help children increase physical activity and burn more energy on the playground.

Kids enjoy taking tricycle laps around a stencil-painted playground track (Photo Credit: Chico State University, CNAP).

Chico State’s CNAP partnered with preschools in its community of Butte County to enhance physical activity opportunities for low-income children. CNAP joined with four preschool agencies who serve over 300 children in 8 preschools to adopt the recommendations from Preventing Childhood Obesity in Early Care and Education Programs (2010). Together, with teacher involvement, they created and implemented policies and practices in these centers that support standards for physical activity, playing outdoors, and caregivers/teachers’ encouragement of physical activity.

Survey responses from the participating child care centers were favorable and showed that the preschool policy project helped staff learn the strategies and recommendations. The teachers commented they had incorporated new ideas into daily play, such as obstacle courses, hoops, tunnels, and other portable play equipment, as well as using exercise videos for rainy days and free play.

Chico State produced a photo diary to capture the work and lessons learned through this project. In addition to discussing the best practices, barriers, and opportunities for improvement, the team discovered that putting policy into action takes time and commitment from teachers and administration. Creating the policy with staff became a teaching tool itself.

Chico State also took an artistic approach to preventing childhood obesity, finding that reusable playground stencils are an inexpensive solution to increase physical activity for preschoolers. Through funding from COPP, Chico State’s CNAP partnered with the Glenn County Office of Education (California) to pilot the use of inexpensive and reusable playground stencils to enhance physical activity opportunities for low-income preschoolers. The goal was to determine if strategically painting preschool playgrounds using the stencils would increase the amount of energy the children would use when playing outdoors.

A colorful stenciled alphabet path for children to hop, run, and walk (Photo Credit: Chico State University, CNAP).

The playground stencils were designed to enhance movement and gross motor development for preschoolers.  They included a painted track for wheeled toys, a bulls-eye for tossing skills, scattered shapes and various hopscotch patterns for jumping, hopping, and leaping and ball bouncing, animals with activity words for teacher-led activities, a figure eight for balancing, and a variety of pathways for balancing and crossing the midline (brain development). Data collected comparing a playground with the stencil art to one that did not have the art found that more energy expenditure was observed in the playground with stencil art activities.

Everything Your Family Needs to Start Cooking Healthy Meals at Home! - Thu, 03/20/2014 - 13:19
Posted by:  AJ Pearlman, Associate Director for Policy, Let’s Move!

We all know there’s nothing like a healthy, home-cooked meal.  So the next time you’re planning time together with your family, spend it in the kitchen. Cooking at home is the perfect way to teach and encourage kids to develop their own healthy habits. Research has shown that children who help with cooking and meal preparation are more likely to consume fruits and vegetables, and they are more aware of the importance of making healthier food choices.

First Lady Michelle Obama and students from Bancroft Elementary School prepare healthy food in the Kitchen of the White House, June 16, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama gave the keynote address at the Partnership for a Healthier America’s “Building a Healthier Future” Summit.  During her remarks, the First Lady noted that Let’s Move! will focus on helping families start cooking again:

“And cooking isn’t just good for our budgets or our physical health, it’s also good for our kids’ emotional health. Research shows that when families share meals together, kids actually perform better in school, and they get along better with their peers. And let’s not forget that cooking together can actually be fun.”

Don’t know where to start? Check out for tips and resources to help you create countless nutritious menus and meals. From guides to healthy eating on a budget to daily food plans, MyPlate has all the tools to prepare your family for a fun-filled day of cooking. For kitchen inspiration, you can also visit the MyPlate Pinterest page, which has hundreds of nutrient-packed recipes, including some new additions to the First Lady’s Favorite MyPlate Recipes.

Take your cooking to the next level with the “My Recipe” feature on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s SuperTracker site, which helps users create and execute personalized nutrition and physical activity plans. With My Recipe, you can analyze and save each recipe, ensuring your family maintains a healthy diet.

So pick up some of your favorite fruits and veggies and get cooking with your family today!

Where History Class Meets the Soil: Ancient Grain Gardens Sprout Up in Cambridge, Mass. - Wed, 03/19/2014 - 11:28
Posted by:  Gregory Beach, FoodCorps Service Member, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Picture this. The September sun warms a gathering of students and the ground where they work. The surrounding plot is lush and ripe for harvest. Fists full of soil, the children dig diligently with the hope that their seeds will establish strong roots before the frost seals the soil until spring. With furrowed brows, the students consider the importance of their work: What will we do if this newly seeded crop of winter wheat fails to sprout?

Kids at Haggerty School in Cambridge, MA (Photo by Greg Beach).

This serene scene of the waning weeks of summer could easily describe young cultivators of the land in ancient Mesopotamia. In fact, it is the work of seventh graders in Cambridge, Massachusetts where I serve as a FoodCorps service member.  FoodCorps is a nationwide team of leaders that connects kids to real food —like heritage wheat— and helps them grow up healthy. FoodCorps aims to bring kids into a conversation around food and where it comes from (including its history and culture), and to engage them in a hands-on way in the process of growing, harvesting, cooking and eating.

Even though grains are a central part of a balanced diet, most of us have little connection with the living plants that make it all possible. Bridging this knowledge and experience gap is the goal of the Ancient Grain Gardens Project, a collaborative, educational initiative between FoodCorps, CitySprouts and Harvard University being piloted at schools across Cambridge. We are helping students think beyond the veggies in the school garden by engaging them in the care, preservation and study of winter wheat.

The Ancient Grain Gardens idea began at the Zooarchaeology Laboratory at Harvard University, where researchers noted that few students had experience actually caring for plants and growing food, especially grains. In the spirit of history, Burns acquired teosinte, an ancestor of maize, and planted its seeds with students and staff in a Harvard greenhouse. Now hooked on plants of the past, Burns sought out ancient grains for planting, with younger gardeners in mind. If Harvard students could benefit from the experience of growing an ancient grain, why couldn’t the students in Cambridge’s elementary and middle schools?

From the early fall planting to the winter biology and history lessons, our team of collaborators works closely to develop the curriculum, facilitating the instruction and caring for the plants at the center of the Ancient Grain Gardens. Deyne Meadow, a collaborator on the project, says it is multidisciplinary, explaining that “integrating science with social studies and literacy is a natural way to help students see how science affects our lives, our history, and our health. Growing crops like winter wheat is a step towards healthier bodies and a healthier planet.”

The Ancient Grain Gardens project is something special. The students know that this is a unique experience, if only because of the wonderment of witnessing a patch of green winter wheat in an endless sea of snow. Around a table in June, with the winter wheat season coming full circle, I look forward to breaking bread with our students in celebration.

Lakeview Child Center at Hamilton embraces Let's Move! Child Care best practices in Mercer County, NJ - Tue, 03/18/2014 - 11:25
Posted by:  Pattijo Shaffer, Associate Vice President, Lakeview Child Center, Inc.

Families of children at Lakeview Child Center at Hamilton in Mercer County, New Jersey are thrilled about Let’s Move! Child Care (LMCC). The center has approximately 100 children ages 6 weeks to 6 years enrolled in their program and as a member of Robert Wood Johnson Health System, Lakeview Child Center has the unique ability to coordinate hands-on learning activities with hospital providers.

Lakeview Child Center children learn that squash can be yummy, healthy and fun, turning their squash masterpieces into spaghetti.

The Lakeview Child Center at Hamilton joined LMCC in October 2012 and is also a participant in the national Early Care and Education Collaborative coordinated by the New Jersey Department of Health, which aligns with ShapingNJ,  the state Partnership for Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention. The staff has been trained on the five LMCC best practices and are now making the following changes:

  • providing water for the children whether playing inside or out and all year long by using insulated water jugs
  • providing privacy and appropriate seating for breast feeding mothers using privacy screens and rocking chairs
  • adding more physical activity each day by adding more time outdoors and adding more indoor physical activities to daily lessons
  • continuing to disallow the use of TV in the program and educating families about screen time recommendations
  • making changes to our menu to reduce fat, increase protein, and serve fruits or vegetables at every meal 

Last September, center staff collaborated with the staff of the Hospital SHAPEDOWN program to host a family event that included a healthy dinner, exercise with a Zumba instructor, healthy ideas for home and school, and a nutrition Q & A with a registered dietitian from the SHAPEDOWN program.  The SHAPEDOWN Registered Dietitians also offered nutrition lessons and food preparation activities with the preschool children several times throughout the year. After the lessons were completed the children took home the recipes to share with their families.

The center also has a garden for the children to plant, grow, and harvest fruits and vegetables. The children care for the plants from beginning to end and are provided with lessons on how these foods grow in the garden. The children love getting to dig in the garden and pick fruits and vegetables. After harvesting the fresh produce, the children help wash the produce and share it with each other and their families.

To learn more about Let’s Move! Child Care, click here.

The First Lady Delivers Keynote Address at the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit Today - Fri, 03/14/2014 - 16:20
Posted by:  Elyse Cohen, Deputy Director, Let’s Move!

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the keynote address to more than 900 participants at the two day Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) “Building a Healthier Future” Summit.  The Summit brought together members of the public, private, and non profit sectors all working together to combat childhood obesity. Mrs. Obama noted new commitments from Dannon, Del Monte, Knowledge Universe, Kwik Trip, Nutri Ventures, and Sodexo and commended the incredible work being done to address the issue.

Highlights from the commitments announced today include:

Sodexo will implement healthy vending and dining programs as well as providing an additional 17 million free breakfasts in schools.

Knowledge Universe committed to serving over 160,000 children, will implement healthy childcare guidelines addressing issues such as physical activity, food and beverages, screen time, and parental participation.

Nutri Ventures nutritional animation committed to making its content available to schools at no cost for purposes of nutritional education.

Dannon committed to improving the nutrient density and reducing the sugar and fat in its yogurt products. In addition, Dannon will invest in education and research focused on healthy eating.

Del Monte Foods, INC committed to improving the nutrient density of all products in addition to providing funds to market healthy habits to children and families. Del Monte will also donate more fruit and vegetable products to anti-hunger efforts across the nation.

Kwik Trip convenience stores committed to distribute nutrient rich foods at an affordable cost as well as implementing an EATSmart program to promote healthy eating among consumers and employees. In addition, Kwik Trip will introduce a Healthy Concessions Program that only permits food and beverages that meet guidelines to be sold.

“I think we should all be very proud of what we are achieving together, because in a fight this hard, we should celebrate every small victory we can get,” said Mrs. Obama. 

Mrs. Obama also noted that although great progress has been made, we need to continue innovative efforts because we still have a long way to go if we want to solve this.  

The First Lady noted that through Let’s Move!, we plan to keep attacking this problem from every angle, because we know there is no one magic bullet.  So we plan to keep building healthier schools.  We plan to keep bringing fresh food into our communities.  We plan to keep urging businesses to provide healthy products and market them responsibly to our kids.  But we also need to keep innovating.”  As Let’s Move! continues to build and expand on the work in all of these areas, a new key focus over the next year will be around helping families to start cooking again. Research shows that home-cooking is one of the single most impactful ways for families to improve their health. 

“And cooking isn’t just good for our budgets or our physical health, it’s also good for our kids’ emotional health,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.

So stay tuned for more posts this year on fun ways to bring more cooking into your home!

Bringing Healthy Choices to Children in Davenport, IA - Thu, 03/13/2014 - 07:51
Posted by:  Bill Gluba, Mayor, Davenport, IA

Davenport, IA, located along the Mississippi River, has a growing population of over 100,000. We have been a part of Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC) since 2010. As the City’s Mayor, I am extremely proud of all of our City’s initiatives to increase wellness for our residents, especially young children. Some of these initiatives include outreach to child care centers and school wellness policies.

We are implementing many exciting initiatives through LMCTC Goal I: Start Early, Start Smart, which focuses on helping early care and education program providers incorporate best practices for nutrition, physical activity and screen time into their programs. One initiative includes a mobile playground and mobile garden that bring physical activities and nutrition programs to schools and early child care centers to increase children’s wellness. The mobile playground and mobile garden staff bring their expertise on-site to train both teachers and children in games and gardening activities to reduce screen time, teach children about healthy eating, and increase physical activity.

The mobile playground travels to Davenport, IA neighborhoods to encourage youth to be physically healthy.

The mobile playground is a decommissioned fire truck that travels to Davenport neighborhoods throughout the summers, helping our youth play games and sports in the City’s parks. We encourage our early learning centers and home child care providers to join us in our neighborhood parks. This engagement increases their understanding of best practices to get children moving through fun new games, and eating healthy through delicious snacks.

These mobile gardens are accessible to the many children in our community as they learn the importance of nutritional eating. 

The mobile garden, a 20 foot trailer that holds three accessible gardening beds, educates youth and families on nutrition and gardening to make sure youth understand the importance of proper nutrition and how to grow, cook and eat their fruits and vegetables.

We also have a wonderful group that collaboratively developed a comprehensive school wellness policy. This group consists of Davenport Community Schools, Iowa State Extension, the City of Davenport, Parent Teacher Association members, parents, principals, health professionals, food service personnel, community leaders, and other health related stakeholders. Anyone that has expressed interest in improving our health policies was invited to the table.

The Davenport School Wellness policy requires schools with a federally-funded school meals program to develop and implement wellness policies addressing nutrition and physical activity.

In addition to this wellness policy, we developed a quarterly newsletter for teachers to better understand the policy and how to practice best practices outlined in the policy.  One best practice is for teachers to provide students with treats that promote wellness on their birthdays, including jump ropes and hula hoops, instead of baked treats.

We are going to continue moving in Davenport, and we invite to you learn more about our success by visiting our Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties Community Profile Page.

Learn more about LMCTC, and how to become more involved with the initiative, here.

Let’s Move! Active Schools Celebrates One Year of Major School Changes - Wed, 03/12/2014 - 11:42
Posted by:  Meredith Aronson, ORISE Fellow, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

The end of February marked the one year Anniversary of Let’s Move! Active Schools, the First Lady’s comprehensive school-based initiative to ensure that all kids have access to a total of 60 minutes of play before, during, and after school.  Since the launch of Let’s Move! Active Schools, over 6,800 schools across all 50 states have signed up, impacting more than 3.5 million students nationwide! Entire districts have also joined the effort, including Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida; Jefferson County, Kentucky Schools; Washington, DC Public Schools; Los Angeles Unified School District; McAllen Independent School District in Texas; and Putnam County Schools in West Virginia.

To see firsthand how schools are making significant improvements, check out the video below featuring DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson and Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvahlo.


Throughout the school year, with the support of school districts and new organizations, Let’s Move! Active Schools has continued to gain momentum to inspire new champions of the program. Just last September, to celebrate DC Public Schools’ commitment to be the first to sign all of its schools up for Let’s Move! Active Schools!, the First Lady joined former NBA basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, U.S. track and field Olympian Allyson Felix, and President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition co-chair Dominique Dawes, for an afternoon of fun, physical activities with Orr Elementary students. The First Lady also addressed educators and administrators about the important role they play in transforming the school health environment for kids.

We are making major strides in combatting childhood obesity, and now more than ever, we need to continue our commitment to promoting regular physical activity and good nutrition in our schools. With a goal of reaching 50,000 schools across the country over the next five years, we need more champions across the Nation to ensure that future generations of children are running, jumping and kicking to reach their greatest potential! Learn more about Let’s Move! Active Schools and sign your school or district up here!

Washington County, Maryland Puts Action Planning To Work for Child Care Centers - Tue, 03/11/2014 - 12:27
Posted by:  Tammy Thornton, MS, RD, LDN, Nutritionist and Community Transformation Grant Coordinator at the Washington County Health Department, Hagerstown, MD.

The Washington County Health Department in Hagerstown, Maryland is actively working to promote Let’s Move! Child Care (LMCC) best practices among Head Start, faith-based, and private child care centers. Two providers—Rehoboth Learning Center and Hagerstown Community College Children’s Learning Center—have been particularly proactive in meeting the goals outlined in their action plans and successfully created healthier environments to help the children in their care thrive.

Rehoboth Learning Center in Williamsport, Maryland was already on the path to creating a healthier environment for its 95 children when it decided to tackle physical activity as an area of improvement. The Center now encourages teachers to spend 50-60 minutes each day outside engaging children in active play or inside engaging children in music and movement time. One year since creating an action plan, Rehoboth now incorporates active outside play time in the morning from 9:45 until 10:30 or 11 AM. Outside playtime is spent walking to the local park to play on the equipment or using the roped-off parking lot to play with hula hoops, jump ropes, Frisbees, or sidewalk chalk. Director Alice Johnson says that some of the kids just love to run around and chase each other. Also, with music and movement in the morning, playing All Aboard the Choo Choo Train, and outside active play time in the morning and afternoon, Rehoboth has reached the benchmark of dedicating 90 minutes a day to play! Rehoboth is also committed to parent education, distributing a monthly newsletter and highlighting LMCC to encourage parent to visit the LMCC website to find helpful ways to be healthy and active with their children. Rehoboth has also committed to being a partner for the upcoming Rethink Your Drink campaign and educating parents about sugar sweetened beverages.

I'm Happy to be outside!  

At Hagerstown Community College Children’s Learning Center, a focus was placed on increasing parent awareness and education. HCCCLC provides care and meals for 75 children. Director Terry Kitchen wanted to jump start the health and wellness efforts and, with input from a newly formed wellness committee consisting of employees, a nutritionist, and parents, a wellness policy was drafted. Parent education about sugar sweetened beverages and strategies to reduce screen time were also included in the wellness policy. The HCCCLC is committed to serving family style meals and continues to work to offer healthy meals and engaging food experiences. 

I See, I Smell, I Taste! Yum! Jicama Salad and Kiwi from "Eating the Alphabet" workshop at Hagerstown Community College Children's Learning Center in Hagerstown, MD.  

For more tips and resources to help you implement your action plan, please visit the Let’s Move! Child Care Resources Page.

CDC Report Finds Declining Obesity Rates Among Young Children - Mon, 03/10/2014 - 15:51
Posted by:  Sam Kass, Executive Director, Let’s Move!

Across the country, families, communities, schools, businesses and organizations are working to move our nation toward a healthier new norm, and studies are showing that their efforts are paying off. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that obesity rates for preschool age children have declined by 43% over the past decade. This is great news!

“I couldn’t be more excited by the news that obesity rates for 2-5 year olds declined by 43% over the last 10 years.  Progress of this magnitude can only be explained by the leadership and hard work we are seeing across this country,” Mrs. Obama said in a statement.  “From parents to teachers, doctors to community leaders, everyone is stepping up to make small changes that are having a huge impact – and today, healthy habits are becoming the new norm for our kids. We have a long way to go, but I am more confident than ever that we can give all our children the bright, healthy futures they deserve.”

First Lady Michelle Obama joins children for a healthy snack during a "Let's Move!" event at La Petite Academy child care center in Bowie, Md., Feb. 27, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

“We continue to see signs that, for some children in this country, the scales are tipping. This report comes on the heels of previous CDC data that found a significant decline in obesity prevalence among low-income children aged 2 to 4 years participating in federal nutrition programs,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We’ve also seen signs from communities around the country with obesity prevention programs including Anchorage, Alaska, Philadelphia, New York City and King County, Washington. This confirms that at least for kids, we can turn the tide and begin to reverse the obesity epidemic.”

We know that helping kids develop healthy habits in their earliest years is critical to their future health. As part of the Let’s Move! anniversary celebration, First Lady Michelle Obama visited a local child care center to highlight the progress of Let’s Move! Child Care and recognize yet another child care provider signing on to support the program. Since launching in 2011, over 12,000 providers have committed to fostering healthy environments and instilling healthy habits among our nation’s preschoolers that will last a lifetime. Through Let’s Move! Child Care, providers are increasing physical activity, limiting screen time, serving healthier food and beverages, and supporting breastfeeding mothers. More than 1 million children are being reached by early childhood education networks that have committed to Let’s Move! Child Care.

Thanks to the numerous committed efforts, we are making progress across the country. Still, we look forward to continuing this work to ensure that we see even greater declines in childhood obesity.

Opening Today: The 2014 Easter Egg Roll Ticket Lottery - Fri, 03/07/2014 - 14:17
Posted by:  Kasie Coccaro, Associate Director of Online Outreach & Operations

Ed. Note: This blog was originally posted on To view the full post, click here.

Don't miss your chance to join the First Family for the 136th annual White House Easter Egg Roll. The big event is on Monday, April 21 and more than 30,000 people will join in on the fun. Guests will have a chance to participate in activities including games, stories, singing, dancing, and of course, the traditional egg roll - all on the White House South Lawn.

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Marian Robinson listen to Jessica Sanchez sing the National Anthem on the South Portico at the 2013 White House Easter Egg Roll, April 1, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

This year's theme "Hop into Healthy, Swing into Shape," encourages children to lead healthy, active lives in support of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative. In addition to the fun and games, the day's activities will help educate families on smart ways to incorporate healthy eating and exercise choices into their daily routines.

Starting today, you can enter the lottery at for a chance to join in on the fun. The event is open to children ages 13 years and younger and their families. Be sure to enter the lottery before it closes on Monday, March 10 at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Families and schools who can't make the trip to Washington, D.C. but want to participate in the festivities can enter the annual poster contest. The First Lady will select the winning design to be used as part of the White House 2014 Easter Egg Roll program.

Johnston College/Library of Congress

The Easter Egg Roll tradition dates back to 1878 and the wooden White House Easter egg first became part of the Easter Egg Roll tradition in 1981, when President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan hosted a hunt for wooden eggs that bore the signatures of actors, actresses, famous politicians, and athletes. This year the 2014 souvenir eggs come in four bright colors and and include the stamped signatures of the President and First Lady. A commemorative purple "Bo and Sunny" egg is included only in the 2014 5-pack Collector's Egg Set. Visit to learn more about the official White House keepsake eggs.

Make sure to stay tuned for additional information about the 2014 White House Easter Egg Roll by following along at #EasterEggRoll and visiting