During this school year, schools across America will begin implementing new federal standards to improve the lunches that 32 million children eat each day. Kids may consume up to half their calories in schools, so we must work together to make the school day healthier with more nutritious food, more physical activity, and nutrition education. This is groundbreaking legislation is a win for America’s kids and parents! The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act provides assurance to parents that our kids are getting the same kind of balance and nutrition that they get at home.
Hear from Chef Kass -- Join the webinar!
On Thursday, August 16, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. (CDT), join the a Back-to-School Campaign webinar to learn more about the great changes being implemented in school cafeterias across the country. Sam Kass, White House Assistant Chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives, will join us to provide an overview of the changes to school meals.
The session is available via Microsoft Office LiveMeeting, and is free to all participants. A phone line and a computer with internet access is necessary. You can register for the event here. The session will be recorded and posted online at a later date on the USDA FNS Webinar Library:
What’s new about school meals:
The new standards, mandated by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, align school meals with recommendations from the National Academies of Science Institute of Medicine and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Meals now provide fruits and vegetables every day of the week, substantially more whole grain-rich foods and only fat-free or low-fat milk. To ensure proper portion size, calories will be based on the age of children served, with an increased focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans-fats and sodium. In addition to the new meals standards, other improvements also meet the challenge of providing healthier meals, including:
- Increased funding for schools – the first real increase in 30 years – tied to strong performance in serving improved meals. Schools must be approved by their certifying state as having met standards to receive this increase.
- Common-sense standards for the revenue provided to school food authorities from non-federal sources, to ensure that these revenues keep pace with the federal commitment to healthy school meals and properly align with costs.
- Training and technical assistance to help schools achieve and monitor compliance.
Learn more about the Healthier School Day.
Marissa Duswalt, Let's Move! Associate Director of Policy and Events
Ed. Note: This article is a cross post from USDA's Blog
Do you know what a Malanga is? What about a Chocolate Pepper? A group of students at Slater Jr. High School in Pawtucket, Rhode Island do -- they learned about these unusual vegetables and more during a fruit and vegetable taste testing at their Summer Food Service Program. For the less adventurous vegetable eater, a Malanga is a root vegetable that has a nutlike flavor and looks similar to a sweet potato when cut open. A Chocolate Pepper is a purple Bell Pepper.
The students who participate in this summer food program are nicknamed the “F&V Ambassadors” of their school. Along with this prestigious title, students get cool t-shirts and, most importantly, the responsibility of encouraging fellow students throughout the school year to make healthier decisions at lunchtime.
Fruit and Veggie Ambassadors sampling fresh fruit and vegetables at a Pawtucket Summer Food Service Program.
After a long brainstorming session, the students came up with several fun ways to get their peers excited about eating fruits and vegetables. These ideas included the fruit and veggie taste testing, a fruit and veggie eating contest, a cafeteria remodel, and creating rap songs about healthy eating that will be aired during the schools morning announcements.
Farmer Shelly Pezza, a special guest at the F&V tasting, is a local Rhode Island farmer that has contracted with the Pawtucket School District to deliver local fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the school year. As a part of the Farm to School program, Shelly attended the summer food program to educate the students about the benefits of eating local fruits and vegetables. In fact, the farm has just finished planting hundreds of heads of romaine lettuce specifically for Pawtucket Schools, which the students will get to enjoy in September! Learn about more Farm to School projects in your area by visiting the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass.
Penny Weaver, FNS Northeast Campaign and Partnership Coordinator encourages students to try new fruits and vegetables.
The students enthusiastically participated in a food trivia game, where the prizes included locally-grown corn and fresh fruit cups. After the games, the real fun began—the taste testing. Students filled their plates with heaps of fruits and vegetables and, after some encouragement, they all tried at least one new item.
This isn’t the first healthy initiative to happen in the Pawtucket School District. Solange Morrisette, Pawtucket School Food Service Director, has a passion for helping her students to discover healthy foods, which has spread throughout the district. Over the past two years, every school in the district was recognized as a part of the Healthier US School Challenge, a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. Due to Solange’s innovative ideas, the school district is already up to par with the new Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act mandates and is excited to continue involving students in healthy initiatives.
Rebecca Dresner is a Northeast Region Intern for Food and Nutrition Services at USDA
Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are great examples. Grains are divided into two subgroups, whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel—the bran, germ, and endosperm. People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Here are ten tips that should help you eat more whole grains and start eating healthier:
Make simple switches
To make half your grains whole grains, substitute a whole-grain product for a refined-grain product. For example, eat 100% whole-wheat bread or bagels instead of white bread or bagels, or brown rice instead of white rice.
Whole grains can be healthy snacks
Popcorn, a whole grain, can be a healthy snack. Make it with little or no added salt or butter. Also, try 100% whole-wheat or rye crackers.
Save some time
Cook extra bulgur or barley when you have time. Freeze half to heat and serve later as a quick side dish.
Mix it up with whole grains
Use whole grains in mixed dishes, such as barley in vegetable soups or stews and bulgur wheat in casseroles or stir-fries. Try a quinoa salad or pilaf.
Try whole-wheat versions
For a change, try brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. Try brown rice stuffing in baked green peppers or tomatoes, and whole-wheat macaroni in macaroni and cheese.
Bake up some whole-grain goodness
Experiment by substituting buckwheat, millet, or oat flour for up to half of the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin, or other flour-based recipes. They may need a bit more leavening in order to rise.
Be a good role model for children
Set a good example for children by serving and eating whole grains every day with meals or as snacks.
Check the label for fiber
Use the Nutrition Facts label to check the fiber content of whole-grain foods. Good sources of fiber contain 10% to 19% of the Daily Value; excellent sources contain 20% or more.
Know what to look for on the ingredients list
Read the ingredients list and choose products that name a whole grain ingredient first on the list. Look for “whole wheat,” “brown rice,” “bulgur,” “buckwheat,” “oatmeal,” “whole-grain cornmeal,” “whole oats,” “whole rye,” or “wild rice.”
Be a smart shopper
The color of a food is not an indication that it is a whole-grain food. Foods labeled as “multi-grain,” “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “cracked wheat,” “seven-grain,” or “bran” are usually not 100% whole-grain products, and may not contain any whole grain.
For tips on teaching your kids to make healthier food choices click here.
"I came up with my recipe because tomatoes and yellow bell peppers are in season and they are really good for you. And Alabama's tomatoes are both delicious and nutritious," says Falcon. "I like a toasted turkey and cheese sandwich with my soup to include all the Choosemyplate food groups." -- Falcon Wiles, age 9, Alabama
Makes 8 to 10 servings
3 pounds tomatoes, halved
2 yellow bell peppers, seeded, stemmed, and quartered
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 fresh basil leaves
6 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup light whipping cream or 1 percent milk
Parmesan cheese, shaved or grated
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Place the tomatoes, peppers, and garlic on 2 large baking sheets or roasting pans, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast until the peppers are slightly dark and the tomatoes are bubbling and slightly brown, about 40 minutes. Let the vegetables cool.
- Once the veggies are cool, put them in a blender, along with the basil, and blend until coarsely chopped.
- Put the chopped veggies in a large pot and add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and slowly add the cream or milk. Continue simmering until the soup is hot, about 15 minutes. Carefully spoon the soup into bowls and top with shaved or grated Parmesan cheese.
Featured in the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. Check out all the winning recipes here
On the evening of July 30, I had the honor of addressing the 165 youth leaders from 53 tribes who were attending the 2012 National Intertribal Youth Summit in Chevy Chase, Maryland. I stressed the importance of fitness within all of the American Indian and Alaska Native communities, especially since childhood obesity is one of the most pressing issues currently facing Indian Country. I believe that through sports like lacrosse, which increase physical activity and simultaneously reinforce cultural heritage, we can help to get our youth on the path toward healthier lifestyles. Thanks to US Lacrosse, the sport’s national governing body, we spent an hour and a half getting active and learning the basic skills of the game.
Photo Credit: Nahal Hamidi, DOI
We practiced catching, scooping, and throwing with the lacrosse sticks and played 3 on 3 games. Lacrosse is an important sport in many Native American communities because it is derived from a traditional stickball game. Different Native communities believe that the game was a gift from the Creator, and it is called ‘The Medicine Game.’ The name is suiting and meaningful because it is played to keep communities strong, to help heal the sick, to raise the hearts of the people, and to bring great life to the children. I really worked up a sweat playing lacrosse for the first time and US Lacrosse did a tremendous job making lacrosse a fun and accessible activity for everyone involved.
Photo Credit: Nahal Hamidi, DOI
Through the lacrosse event, many of the youth learned that athletics and physical activities can help foster leadership skills. Historically in the tribes that played the game, lacrosse players were considered leaders and I believe that these youth will be able to use the values learned at the Summit to inspire change in their respective communities. I’m excited that this group will have the ability to bring lacrosse back to their tribes and schools because their chaperones were briefed on the process of applying for equipment grants. US Lacrosse offers equipment grants for Physical Education, which also includes curriculum. Additionally, groups can apply to US Lacrosse’s First Stick Program, which will help the youth leaders take the first steps to creating a full lacrosse program in their communities.
Learn more about Let's Move! in Indian Country.
Dion Killsback, Counselor to the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs
Ed note: This guest post was provided by Dara Torres, who competed in five Olympic games and won 12 medals for Team USA.
My daughter Tessa and I really had such an amazing experience traveling to London together for the first week of the Olympics. Although I was hoping to be there as an athlete (having just missed making the team by nine one hundredths of a second), it was still fun to be there as a spectator.
When we talk about all the wonderful things we did over there, the one thing that stands out in both our minds was the Let's Move event put on by the First Lady and Nickelodeon.
When we first walked into the event in the backyard of the US Embassy house, music was playing, and kids were running around the lawn and playing at all the fun stations set up for them (3 legged races, tennis, soccer, basketball, tug a war). As a Mom and an athlete, to me it's great to see kids being so active and having so much fun while being active, and Let's Move did an awesome job of accomplishing that.
I of course also enjoyed seeing and meeting the other Olympians that were there also to help support this campaign. I kept making Tessa take pictures with all of them (Apollo Ono, Carl Lewis, Nastia Luikin, David Beckham to name a few) which she wasn't thrilled about, but the minute she saw the Power Rangers she couldn't wait to get a picture with them!
Tessa usually doesn't like to be in the spotlight so when I asked her to come up on stage with me and the other Olympians, "no mom" couldn't come out of her mouth quick enough. But when I told her the Fist Lady would be up there giving a speech about the importance of staying active and eating healthy she ran into my arms and said "I want to go!". She's learned a lot about the President and First Lady in kindergarten and I think the First Lady trumped the Power Rangers!!
Teaching kids about sports was such a great idea to bring the spirit of the Olympics to the Let's Move event. It's a memory Tessa and I shared together and will have the rest of our lives.
Tessa loved Mrs Obama and her lets play program...all the kids there had a blast! twitter.com/DaraTorres/sta…
— Dara Torres (@DaraTorres) July 27, 2012
Ed. Note: This article was first published on Whitehouse.gov
Go behind the scenes with First Lady Michelle Obama and members of Team USA past and present, as they join military kids and 2,000 American military children and American and British students at Let’s Move! London, an event held to spread the spirit of the Olympic Games in London.
And make sure to check out the Storify gallery we put together of the great tweets from people who were at the event in London with the First Lady, which is included below:
Colleen Curtis is Director of Digital Content for the Office of Digital Strategy
As we watch and are inspired by Team USA's 2012 Olympic results in London, we can all take a cue from our team and strive to live a little more like athletes ourselves. A nutritious diet and regular physical activity are the building blocks to peak performance. This summer, MyPlate and Let’s Move! are encouraging Americans to make healthier eating choices and include physical activity into their daily routine to support Team USA and celebrate the Olympic Games.
ChooseMyPlate.gov can help answer your questions about nutrition, weight management, physical activity, food safety, and building healthier meals. The website can help you make daily food decisions by providing information about food groups and portions sizes, and offering simple recipes that reflect the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommendations. We encourage you to check out the 10 Tips Nutrition Education Series. Topics include “Eating Better on a Budget,” “Healthy Eating for Vegetarians,” and many more.
ChooseMyPlate.gov also includes the online interactive MyPlate application, SuperTracker. SuperTracker helps users easily plan, analyze, and record their daily diet and physical activity. The SuperTracker helps users take active, individual steps towards improving their health.
You can also use MyPlate’s community toolkit to encourage healthier lifestyles in your community. Check out our tips for getting your community moving:
- Make Physical Activity Accessible: Offer regular programs and scheduled activities at your organization that include physical activity for adults and children.
- Promote Recreational Facilities: Partner with local community centers and schools to promote the use of recreation facilities, gymnasiums, playing fields, and playgrounds.
- Support Community Sports: Start a community sports league, intramural sport, or physical activity club that is accessible to everyone in your community.
- Try Walking or Riding for Routine Trips: Walk or bike with kids to school, places of worship, and other activities.
— U.S. Embassy London (@USAinUK) July 26, 2012
MyPlate is helping Team USA eat to win!
MyPlate is a helpful reminder for us all to make healthier choices. So remember—this summer, make healthier food choices, stay active, and Go for the Gold with MyPlate and Let’s Move!
Dr. Robert Post is Deputy Director for USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
Ed. Note: This article is a cross post from USDA's Blog
With gas prices on the rise and the trip to the nearest large grocery store clocking in at 50 miles, Mark Platten realized an opportunity much closer to home. Platten, the Colorado State University Extension Director for Teller County, began brainstorming and came up with the idea for a program that would engage young people in gardening, put fresh food on the table, and facilitate community service opportunities in the town of Cripple Creek, Colorado – a small town situated in the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 9,500.
The community rallied behind the idea,and the partnerships necessary to make the Cripple Creek Junior Master Gardeners Program a reality began to fall into place. The Town of Cripple Creek offered an unused greenhouse as a venue. Platten was awarded a grant to purchase the Junior Master Gardening curriculum and gardening supplies, and the Teller County Office of Public Health donated additional materials. With folks from Pikes Peak Urban Gardens and the Colorado Master Gardeners of Teller County volunteering their expertise, all that the program needed was participants. A partnership with Cripple Creek Parks and Recreation sealed the deal and brought in youth to participate from their summer programs.
The more the kids participating in the Junior Master Gardner program learned about the life cycle of the vegetables they were growing, the more interested and enthusiastic they became about gardening. For the participants, seeing something grow from a seed, to a plant, to something they could pick and eat was incredible! In addition to cultivating plants, the program’s real goal is to cultivate knowledge about the process of growing fresh, nutritious foods in the kids. As the program has progressed over the past four years, the children who have been involved since the beginning have become mentors for the first-timers, helping share knowledge gained from their experiences. After their yearly harvest, the group hosts an event called “Soup for Community” where they serve a free nutritious meal to nearly one hundred participants each year.
By empowering youth in the community to learn more about gardening and growing healthy and nutritious food, the Cripple Creek Junior Master Gardener program is one answer to First Lady Michelle Obama’s call to help raise a healthier generation of kids. Developed by Texas AgriLife Extension Service, the Junior Master Gardener curriculum promotes a love of gardening and is available for all groups to order online.
Did You Know?
USDA’s People’s Garden Initiative has been partnering with Junior Master Gardeners on youth gardening trainings and programs since 2009 and together launched the first international People’s Garden in Korea.
Adam Keyes works for USDA Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Ed. Note: This article is a cross post from USDA's Blog
The Louisiana State 4-H Food and Fitness Camp is joining the Let’s Move! initiative to combat childhood obesity through improved nutrition and increased physical activity. As a camp for fourth and fifth graders designed and run by high school 4-H teens, the program motivates campers to eat healthier and move more.
This year, the 4-H Food and Fitness Camp incorporated a jungle safari-themed experience, showing campers that eating right and exercising can be fun! Dressed in wild animal costumes and surrounded by fake vines, the campers and counselors played games and learned about nutrition.
“It has really developed leadership among this group along with increasing their knowledge of nutrition and fitness,” reflects Dr. Mark Tassin, 4-H Youth and Family Development Department Head at LSU.
4-H campers enjoy incorporating fitness into a healthy lifestyle. Here, participants work to complete an obstacle course.
The counselors conducted hands-on workshops on food safety, food preparation and nutrition. During these lessons campers tried new foods, increasing the variety in their diets and exposing them to an array of nutrients. Additionally, participants were taught how to create a well-balanced plate. Counselors encouraged campers to increase fruit and vegetable intake, eat more whole grains, choose low-fat dairy, and select lean protein options.
The camp also focused on getting kids active. Campers and counselors played games, participated in sports, and danced to music. The Louisiana State 4-H Food and Fitness Camp embodies the First Lady’s initiative by demonstrating that leading a healthy lifestyle requires both proper nutrition and physical activity.
Looking to get active in your community? Visit the 4-H website to find your local 4-H office and find out what projects and activities are available for youth your age!
Jessica Larson is a Dietetic Intern for USDA Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
While First Lady Michelle Obama was in London leading the U.S. Delegation to the 2012 Olympic Games, communities back at home showed their support for Team USA by dancing, jumping and running their way to a healthier lifestyle. Thousands of people from nearly all 50 states got together to celebrate Let’s Move! Olympic Fun Day on Saturday, July 28th by getting active and having fun. From tug-of-war in Eagle, Wisconsin to badminton in Porterville, CA and from soccer in New York City to relay races in Cornish, ME, we were thrilled by the response!
We hope all the fun and activity inspires your family and community to get moving too! And even though our Olympic Fun Day has passed, you can join or host a Let's Move! Meetup in your community year-round.
Have a look at some of the coverage, stories, photos and tweets from events that took place around the country:California:
Richard from Porterville, CA:
“We started with a two lap run around the perimeter of the field, using an orange funnel as our torch. We then did calesthenics, then our obstacle course, then to our 5 events. We had hurdles, medicine ball hurl, 25 yard dash, badminton balance run and the long jump. The kids were great and didn't want it to end. It was just such great fun and the families can't wait for us to put on another event, so we're going to plan for the winter olympics and maybe one more before then."
NBC4 Los Angeles: Let's Move Olympic Fun Day Takes Over Santa Monica
Getting more people to have her attitude is the goal of "Let's Move," First Lady Michelle Obama's campaign to fight childhood obesity.
Santa Monica Patch: Olympic Fun Day Gets Kids Active on the Promenade
Children kicked, jumped and squatted during an hour-long Lets Move! campaign exercise demonstration on the Third Street Promenade.
Lisa from Cornish, ME:
“We honored all Olympic athletes, past and present, with 4 hours of Olympic themed fun & fitness. For the first two hours, we loosely practiced our events, while having a great time just being silly. All that fun led to a healthy snack break of strawberries, apples, bananas, clementines, cucumbers, carrots and pickles. Reinvigorated from our snack break, a mock Olympic Torch relay was in order. We marched from the gym, across the painted brick crosswalk on Main Street to the park. [Here] the children tried their hand, or should I say feet, at the long jump. With a wide variety of ages, 2-15 years, the idea wasn't to beat an opponent, it was to throw or jump more than once, and hopefully do better on each attempt. It worked. The joy on their faces was incredible.”
Lake Wylie Pilot - Charleston gets into Olympic spirit with fun run
Charleston is joining cities around the nation in holding an Olympic 5K Fun Run.
Laurie from Bluffton, IN:
“Kids of all ages signed up to run a leg of the relay carrying an Olympic style torch. At the end of the relay we all met in a park where we lit our own Olympic flame, handed out gold medals, had some healthy snacks and played backyard games like wiffleball, cornhall,frisbee, and hula hoops.”
Kimberly from Wheaton, MD:
“Army Ft Detrick Silver Spring CYSS performed an Let's Move Obstacle Course created by the older Youth at the Summer Camp for the younger children. Children created two teams to complete the course together cheering each other on. The course included tunnels to crawl through, lily pads to hop on, cones to run around, jump ropes, running and sack racing. The children had fun while staying hydrated."
Lisa from Eagle, WI:
“At Old World Wisconsin in Eagle, Wisconsin, we held an afternoon of old-fashioned games to celebrate Let's Move! and the Olympic Fun Day. We had relays with hoops, Graces (seeing who could toss the ring back and forth the most times using wooden sticks), a bucket brigade using old-fashioned laundry tubs and buckets, and a tug 'o war. We also hosted a vintage 1860s base ball game--and afterwards invited the kids down on the field to hit the ball with the bat with the team. About 30 kids took us up on it. All in all, a day of fun and exercise outdoors, just like kids did over 100 years ago, with no batteries nor rechargers required!"
Lockie from Brooklyn, NY:
“Let's Move Brooklyn's amazing and diverse community partners included: the YMCA, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Brooklyn Children's Museum, making it possible for there to be something for every attendee to enjoy. From botanical walks, and relay races, to mommy and me aerobic classes, residents enjoyed innovative and fun cultural events that stimulated the mind, body and spirit."
Angela New York City, NY :
“Over 50 New York City kids gathered to celebrate First Lady Michelle Obama's U.S. Delegation to the 2012 Olympics by participating in Olympic inspired activities including relay races, games, soccer and stretching. The day was a huge success, held at Asphalt Green where Olympic swimmer Lia Neal trained for the games!”
NY1 - City Kids Move At Olympic-Inspired Event
As the games begin across the Atlantic, little ones with big Olympic dreams are exercising at a variety of fitness events for kids. An Olympic Fun Day was held Saturday at locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch - Brooklyn Gets Fit For a Healthier Tomorrow
Who is the next Lia Neal? That's the question Let's Move! Brooklyn hoped to find the answer to at an Olympic Fun Day event Saturday in Bed-Stuy that combined the spirit of a pep rally with the sweat of a good old-fashioned workout.
Park Slope Patch- Send Us Your Olympic Fun Day Photos
In three separate events Saturday, Brooklynites both young and old will take part in an Olympic Fun Day created by First Lady Michelle Obama to cheer on the athletes of tomorrow.
The Salt Lake Tribune –Utah youth invited to Olympic Let’s Move event Saturday
Utah children and teens are invited to get active in the Olympic spirit this Saturday at an event at The Gateway in Salt Lake City.
National Museum of the American Indian:
"It was wonderful to watch our young visitors approach traditional Native American games like Yupik yo-yo and Métisring-and-pin with such a natural sense of curiosity and wonder. All we had to do was start playing them and suddenly we were surrounded by wide-eyed children eager to join us."
Soul of Miami- Get Moving With iCarly’s Reed Alexander at Miami Children’s Museum
iCarly star Reed Alexander attends a Meetup at the Miami Children’s Museum celebrating the 2012 Summer Olympics and their newest exhibit, MiChiMu’s Summer Games.
Ed note: This was originally published on whitehouse.gov
First Lady Michelle Obama was in the stands on Saturday as Team USA scored its first gold medal in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. In her unofficial capacity as First Fan, Mrs. Obama had the chance to cheer on swimmer Ryan Lochte as he won the men's 400 meter individual medley.
That afternoon, the First Lady took in the tennis competition from Wimbledon, watching Serena Williams knock off Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-1 from a seat beside Oracene Price, Serena’s mom.On Sunday, the First Lady gave each member of Team USA – up to and including the coaches – a hug after they moved past France in the first round of the basketball competition.
USA Basketball coach Krzyzewski greets Mike First Lady Michelle Obama and former Paralympian Gabriel Diaz de Leon following the team's 98-71 opening round victory over France at Olympic Park during the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, July 29, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert) Mrs. Obama and the U.S. delegation, which included Olympians Dominique Dawes, Brandi Chastain, Grant Hill and Summer Sanders, and Paralympian Gabriel Diaz de Leon, also attended the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night. Before the Olympic Games began, the First Lady hosted Let’s Move! London at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in London, where 2,000 American and British children showed off their skills at at sports stations and got a chance to meet athletes, including David Beckham. While in London, the First Lady also attended a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by Queen Elizabeth II, visited with U.S. military personnel at the Royal Air Force's Mildenhall base, and met with Samantha Cameron, the wife of Britain’s prime minister. To see more of the action, check out out this slideshow from the First Lady’s Olympic trip.
Ed note: This post originally appeared on the blog at whitehouse.gov
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama joined 2,000 American military children and American and British students at Let’s Move! London, an event held to spread the spirit of the Olympic Games in London. The First Lady is leading the U.S. Delegation to the Summer Games and Let’s Move! London was designed to turn the inspiration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games into action by encouraging kids to get moving.
“That’s what Let's Move is all about. It’s about helping kids like you live happier, healthier lives,” Mrs. Obama told the crowd gathered at the U.S. Ambassador's Residence in London. “And that’s really why we brought you all here today… because we want you to see that there all kinds of ways that you can stay active and have fun doing it. You don't have to be an Olympian. You don't have to join a team. But there are so many ways that you can have fun and keep yourselves moving.”
First Lady Michelle Obama is photographed with Team USA Olympic athletes competing in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games during a greet at the U.S. Olympic Training Facility at the University of East London in London, England, July 27, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)
Taking her own advice, the First Lady participated in a whirl of activities -- starting with a soccer game alongside David Beckham, Brandi Chastain, players from Manchester United, and Spongebob Squarepants as the goalie. Next up was the NBA Fit station, where Mrs. Obama practiced ladder hurdles with Grant Hill and Dikembe Mutumbo and passed the basketball with young players. Other activities included running a shuttle relay with Carl Lewis, watching a field hockey game with Gabriel Diaz De Leon, competing in a game of tug-o-war with Apolo Ohno, Jeff Sutphen, and Nastia Luikin and then assorted games with Summer Sanders, Bart Conner, and Ian Baranski, before finally joining a doubles match on the tennis courts with Shawn Johnson.
First Lady Michelle Obama runs at an activity station during a “Let’s Move! London” event at Winfield House in London, England, July 27, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)
Let’s Move! London was held in support of Let’s Move!, the First Lady’s initiative to solve the problem of childhood obesity in a generation. Families here in the U.S who are inspired by Team USA to get active can take advantage of a nationwide commitment by the United States Olympic Committee, U.S. Paralympics, the U.S. Olympians Association, and USOC National Governing Bodies to give 1.7 million young people the chance to participate in Olympic and Paralympic sports in their communities – many of them for the very first time. You can search by zip code to find opportunities near you by visiting www.ahealthieramerica.org/olympics.
And the Let’s Move! team is looking forward to more Olympic fun this weekend. Tonight, Mrs. Obama will lead the Presidential Delegation of Olympic and Paralympic greats to the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. And tomorrow is the first Let’s Move! Olympic Fun Day back home: a nationwide movement encouraging cities, towns and neighborhoods to come together and participate in their own versions of Olympic-inspired games and activities.
To celebrate the start of the Summer Games in London, First Lady Michelle Obama is calling on communities around the country to support Team USA on Saturday, July 28, not just by cheering from the couch, but by taking inspiration from their hard work and dedication to get active. Cities, towns and organizations across America have signed on to support tomorrow's Let’s Move! Olympic Fun Day with activities that promote healthy living.
From a day of dancing on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to a Fitness and Nutrition Expo in Atlanta, Georgia, and from an Olympic-style relay in Bluffton, Indiana to a workout on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Moncia, California, there are more than 200 Let's Move! Olympic Fun Day events being planned on Meetup in more than forty states.
Can't find an event near you at http://meetup.com/lets-move? There's still time to host your own - even in your own backyard - find out how to get started here and fun ideas for a "Playground Olympics" here.
Joining a Let's Move! Olympic Fun Day event tomorrow? Share your story and follow the fun:
- On Twitter, use the hashtag #LetsMoveDay to share updates and photos
- Like Let's Move! on Facebook and join the discussion
- Follow @LetsMove for highlights from around the country
- After your event, tell us all about it here: http://www.letsmove.gov/share-your-story-lets-move-olympic-fun-day
- Follow First Lady Michelle Obama at the 2012 Olympic Games on Twitter. Follow @LetsMove for live updates from London and see all of the updates added to Storify here
Have you ever heard of an Edible Forest Garden? It’s a garden that grows native and edible plants, and it's also a great way to get kids connected to nature. In Richmond, California, volunteers came together to celebrate Cesar Chavez Community Garden Day at their own Edible Forest garden. Youth learned about forest plants that are both unique to the local geography and also edible.
Volunteers plant fruit trees as part of the Edible Forest in Richmond, Calif.
Community and youth leaders can learn how to plant their own edible forest gardens. Read Richmond’s story for inspiration and direction.
A Kids Zone added fun with face painting and other activities during planting at the Urban Tilth Edible Forest in Richmond, Calif. Other highlights were the community barbeque and a “make your own soda” used to teach children how much sugar goes into their favorite beverage.
Learning about where food comes from is exactly what First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Outside! Initiative is all about – working to get kids active outside and living a healthier lifestyle. Why not get outside in your own local forest or woods? Check out the More Kids in the Woods program for funding and resources to get your own project started.
Marissa Duswalt is the Associate Director of Policy and Events for Let's Move!
Ed. Note: As the First Lady leads the U.S. Delegation to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, she is calling on communities across the country to participate in an “Olympics-inspired” Meetup on July 28, 2012. You can learn more about Let's Move! Olympic Fun Day at: letsmove.gov/meetup.
Do you have Olympic fever?
This Saturday, July 28, as First Lady Michelle Obama leads the U.S. Delegation to the 2012 Olympic Games, she’s calling on families around the country to support Team USA, not just by cheering on our athletes, but also by organizing their own Let's Move! Olympic Fun Day events.
As the CEO of a national nonprofit dedicated to building playgrounds, I can’t help but be excited. After all, the Olympics encapsulates many of the elements that make outdoor play so critical: teamwork, skill development, challenge, and fitness, to name just a few.
I can’t think of any more fitting place to hold your own Olympics than at the playground. Here are five Olympic-inspired playground events:
- Slide shotput: Place a bucket at the bottom of a slide. Competitors must each “put” five tennis balls down the slide. The one who gets the most in the bucket wins the gold.
- Monkey relay: Divide into teams and hold relay races across the monkey bars. To discourage recklessness, competitors must balance something on their heads—may we suggest a stuffed monkey? If the monkey falls off, the contestant must start over.
- Synchronized swinging: Teams swing together for 30 seconds each. A panel of judges determines which team is the most synchronized.
- Long swing jump: This one is already a classic playground favorite—who can jump the farthest off the swing? (Safely!)
- Playground ping-pong: Teams of two volley a ping-pong ball across various pieces of playground equipment, like slides, swingsets, monkey bars, and jungle gyms. The team who can keep the ball going the longest wins. Particularly recommended for teens and tweens!
Darell Hammond is the Founder and CEO of KaBOOM!, a not-for-profit based in Washington, DC dedicated to saving play by making sure there is a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.
Is your menu ready for the first day of the Olympic Games? On July 28th, the First Lady is hosting the first ever national Let’s Move! Olympic Fun Day inspired by the summer games and as part of her Let’s Move! initiative to raise a healthier generation of kids. To join the celebration, Reed Alexander cooked up some delicious recipes inspired by London’s finest delicacies. Check out tips and recipes from Reed below:
To make the most of the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games in London, toast with some tasty (and good-for-you!) KewlBites snacks. What better way than to channel London spirit than with your own homemade version of classic Afternoon High Tea?
No hurdles to jump over here (no pun intended!); putting together a gold medal-worthy take on this iconic British staple is fast and easy. With these tips and recipes, you'll be reaching for flavorful Egg Salad and Smoked Salmon tea sandwiches and lightened-up scones and jam. Plus, start steeping the star of the show -- the tea, of course!
I was inspired two-fold to create this better-for-you interpretation of one of the most delicious indulgences, Afternoon Tea.
Reason #1: Here at Let's Move!, we're empowering you to kick off your own Olympics Fun Day Meetup, by inviting friends and family to spend a day having fun with fitness. It's a blast! Plan a special outing to enjoy the fresh air or just to get active while showing your support for Team USA. Learn more about how to throw an easy Let's Move! Olympics Fun Day Meetup here: http://www.letsmove.gov/blog/2012/07/11/celebrate-summer-games-your-local-lets-move-olympic-fun-day
Reason #2: I love London! From Piccadilly Circus to Fortnum & Mason (an amazing gourmet hub for all culinary aficionados!) to the London Eye observation wheel, the capital of the United Kingdom is one of my favorite destinations to visit. From the iconic British traditions to the warmth of such an incredible city, these 2012 Olympic Games - and Olympic Treats - are sure to rock!
Tower of London Egg Salad Sandwiches
By Reed Alexander
Make these double-decker, tower-style, Olympic champion-worthy egg salad tea sandwiches by stacking up two toasted squares of crust-less whole grain bread and using my lightened-up and flavorful herby egg salad as the delicious filling! These easy Tower of London Egg Salad Sandwiches will transport you to the shadow of Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's, Buckingham Palace, or perhaps the Olympic Stadium itself!
What you need:
12 large eggs
¾ cup finely diced fresh celery stalks
3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup minced fresh chives, plus extra for garnish
1 ½ teaspoons dried tarragon
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
30 (2-inch by 2-inch) squares wholegrain or multigrain bread, crusts removed
What to do:
Place eggs in a large pot and fill with water to cover. Set over high heat on stovetop and boil, covered, approximately 10 minutes, until hard-boiled.
Drain pot and place eggs in an ice-water bath (a bowl containing a mixture of cold water and ice). Cool 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard, chives, dried tarragon, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine. Set aside.
When eggs are cooled, peel them and discard shells. Dice six of the eggs, using both whites and yolks. For the remaining six eggs, dice only the whites, discarding the yolks.
In a large mixing bowl, combine diced eggs and egg whites, celery, and mayonnaise-mustard mixture (see Step #3). Stir well until completely distributed and the mixture is smooth and uniform.
Evenly spread roughly one heaping tablespoon of egg salad on 15 of the squares of bread. Top each with another square of bread, using all remaining 15 squares. Add another heaping tablespoon of egg salad on top of each sandwich, evenly spreading in a layer, and sprinkle with chives to garnish.
Serve and enjoy!
Dill + Salmon + Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
What you need:
½ cup reduced-fat cream cheese
3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions, both white and green parts
20 approximately (3-inch x 2-inch) rectangles of sliced 100% whole grain bread, crusts removed and discarded
8 ounces smoked salmon, sliced into 20 approximately (3-inch x 2-inch) rectangles
60 thinly-sliced rounds cucumber (or seedless English cucumber if you’re feeling fancy)
20 sprigs fresh dill, for garnish
20 small fresh lemon wedges, for garnish
What to do:
In a small bowl, thoroughly mix the cream cheese and scallions.
Evenly spread approximately 1-teaspoon cream cheese-scallion mixture onto each bread slice.
Top each piece of bread with a slice of smoked salmon, followed by three rounds of cucumber each.
Garnish each sandwich with a sprig of dill and a lemon wedge.
Serve and enjoy!
Super Delicious Scones
These delicious scones are the perfect embodiment of the historical British tradition of afternoon tea. By cracking the code for making these scrumptious, tender treats healthy (we used applesauce instead of butter – an easy trick for any kitchen), we can take in the quintessential UK spirit, even if you’re across the pond or beyond! Plus, these scones are super-easy – no kneading of the dough required. Scones pair excellently with a hot, steaming cup of English Breakfast Blend tea to kick the morning off as a tasty breakfast. Serve some sweet seasonal berries on the side and you’ll be ready to go! Take one bite of the awesome edible reward you’ll be thrilled to receive when you make this fast recipe, and you’ll be transported to a shady spot in Hyde Park, one of London’s highlight destinations, taking in the scene next to the grand Buckingham Palace. Who knows? You might even get to share your light delight with Prince William and Princess Catherine!
What you need:
1 ½ cups self-rising flour
½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup nonfat skim milk
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
Egg White Glaze: 1 beaten egg white mixed with a dash of nonfat skim milk
canola oil spray OR nonstick cooking spray
What to do:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare 2 (9×13) inch baking sheets or one larger baking sheet by coating them with canola oil spray OR nonstick cooking spray. Before spraying them, line the baking sheets with aluminum foil, if desired. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients – both of the flours, the baking powder, and the salt.
In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the wet ingredients – the milk, oil, and applesauce (do not add the Egg White Glaze, as this will be reserved for Step 7 [see below]).
Add the wet ingredients into the larger bowl containing the dry ingredients, and fold them in with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until just incorporated and the dough forms. Do not over-mix.
Form the scones from the raw dough. Use a 1-ounce (or 2-tablespoon) ice cream scoop to place one level scoop of dough into your hands, and lightly roll it into a cylindrical ball. Due to the ball’s cylindrical shape, the top and bottom should be rather even and flat. Place the ball on the baking sheet. Do not press the dough into a flatter shape, but, instead, ensure that it is roughly 1 ½ inches in diameter and slightly taller than that in terms of height.
Repeat the process described in Step 5 (see above) with the remaining dough, spacing the raw scones on the baking sheet several inches apart. If using the 2 (9×13) inch baking sheets prepared in Step 1, place 5-6 scones on each sheet.
Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the tops and sides of each scone with the Egg White Glaze.
Place the scones on the baking sheets into the oven, and bake for approximately 13-16 minutes, or until the scones are cooked through and lightly golden brown on top.
Remove from oven and use a heatproof spatula to carefully separate the scones from the surface of the baking sheet. Place on a cooling rack to cool, or serve while still warm.
Serve and enjoy!
Makes about 10 scones.
Marissa Duswalt is Associate Director of Policy & Events for Let's Move!
Reed Alexander is best known for his role on Nickelodeon's iCarley, and founder of Kewlbites.com.
Can you believe that we’re half way through the summer? With many schools starting up again next month, there’s no time like the present to take off and spend an hour or more exploring the outdoors!
You don’t need to live near a beach or a national park to experience the joys of America’s great outdoors! There are places in every community – from bike paths and trails, to local parks, ponds and playgrounds – to get moving outside and have a little fun.
Regular participation in outdoor activities has been shown to boost children’s creativity and focus, in addition to building aerobic capacity and strength. Hiking, biking, swimming, and other outdoor games are easy – and affordable – ways for families to spend time together during the summer months.
Check out what the First Lady has to say about the importance of moving outside in this great new video:
Are you ready for an outdoor adventure? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
· Discover the Forest! Find public lands and waters near you.
· Use KaBOOM’s map of play to locate a play space in your neighborhood.
· Try something new! Get inspired by the National Wildlife Federation’s outdoor “Activity Finder.”
· Go fishing! Visit the “Take me Fishing” site to learn the basics.
· Take advantage of the parks and open spaces in your state.
· Visit a national park and become a Let’s Move Outside!Junior Ranger.
Anytime you’re outside for an extended period, remember to prepare for the weather and bring plenty of water and healthy snacks!
Today in Philadelphia, First Lady Michelle Obama joined local elected officials from across the country to announce new opportunities to bring Let’s Move! to cities, towns and counties across America. Since she launched Let’s Move!, the First Lady has encouraged local solutions to solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. Today, she announced opportunities for local elected officials to do just that through Let’s Move! Cities, Towns & Counties, an initiative that calls upon all local elected officials to work for changes that make their communities healthier.
“Every day, local officials like these are changing our children’s lives and helping them learn and grow and fulfill every last bit of their potential. And thanks to the commitments we’re announcing today, our cities, towns and counties will be able to do even more,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “We still have a long way to go to solve this problem. But if leaders like these keep coming to the table and we all keep working together, then I am confident that we can give all our children the happy, healthy futures they so richly deserve.”
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius joined the First Lady today and announced support of subject matter experts from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture to provide technical assistance and information to local elected officials as they work toward specific goals: (1) to provide children with a healthier start, (2) empower communities with information using MyPlate, (3) provide healthy food in schools, (4) use healthy and sustainable food service guidelines in municipal food service, and (5) map playspaces and create safe places for kids to play.
The private sector stepped up in big ways to support local elected officials in achieving those goals. Check out today’s announcements:
- A new website, free resources, access to experts and tracking tools and maps from the National League of Cities with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Cities, towns and counties can sign up for Let’s Move! Cities, Towns & Counties at www.healthycommunitieshealthyfuture.org to get involved.
- A new grant opportunity for local leaders to create Play Streets – street-closings where kids and families can run, walk, bike or play outside freely without traffic – in their city or town from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association through the Partnership for a Healthier America. Local leaders can apply for the Play Streets funding at www.ahealthieramerica.org/PlayStreetsRFP
- Free materials, technical assistance and online guidance for Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties local elected officials to build or expand public playgrounds from KaBOOM!, a non-profit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America
The First Lady was also joined by 12 local elected officials who are leading by example in their own cities, towns and counties. Their stories are examples of how local leadership can create big change. And that’s what Let’s Move! is all about – any person, in any role, stepping up to make positive changes for healthier communities. Thanks to the public and private sector commitments announced today, communities across America can join the movement. Sign up your city, town or county to get started!
Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia
In line with the overarching goals of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, the City of Philadelphia has made a substantial commitment to improving residents’ overall health and physical fitness through Get Healthy Philly, a ground breaking public health initiative focused on healthy eating, active living and tobacco control. Through partnerships with government agencies, community-based organizations, the private sector and academic institutions, Get Healthy Philly is working to increase the availability and affordability of healthy foods, decrease the availability and marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages and increase physical activity among Philadelphians. In just two short years, Get Healthy Philly has made great progress in creating environments that make it easier for Philadelphians to engage in healthy behaviors. These changes have occurred in neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and the media. Over the last two years, Get Healthy Philly has made significant strides:
- Increased access to healthy foods for 220,000 residents of low-income neighborhoods
- Opened 10 new farmers’ markets in low-income communities
- Helped increase SNAP redemption at markets by 335% through the Philly Food Bucks program
- Trained and supported over 630 corner stores to sell healthier products, such as produce, water and low-fat dairy
- Installed 9.7 miles of conventional bicycle lanes, 6.7 miles of new buffered bike lanes, 2.0 miles of Green bicycle lanes and 8.9 miles of shared bicycle lanes
- Integrated healthy living and health impact assessments into Philadelphia 2035, the city’s new comprehensive plan
- Established active School Wellness Councils in 171 public schools serving over 100,000 students to incorporate physical activity into the school-day and remove junk foods from classrooms, school stores and fundraisers
- Implemented food and fitness standards for over 200 Out-of-School Time afterschool programs and 100 after-school recreation programs that serve 20,000 children annually
- Increased parents’ awareness about the sugar content of beverages like soda, fruit drinks and sweet teas through a media education initiative that was seen or heard over 40 million times
In addition, the City of Philadelphia has embraced the Corporation for National and Community Service’s “United We Serve: Let’s Read! Let’s Move!” initiative. Mayor Nutter’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service convenes a steering committee comprised of grassroots and more established non-profit organizations that promote reading, exercise and healthy eating. Each summer, starting in 2010, the steering committee has hosted a series of volunteer driven, neighborhood based events promoting the tenets of “Let’s Read! Let’s Move!” These events have included a community health fair, family-friendly field days, healthy food tastings and two 5K run/walks. Currently, the steering committee is gearing up for a city-wide “Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Field Day” on August 1st, organized in partnership with the Mayor’s “Fun, Safe Philly Summer Campaign.”
Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ
Let’s Move! Newark was established on October 10, 2010 by Mayor Booker, as a result of the drastic increase in the occurrence of childhood obesity in children residing in the City of Newark. Working with existing pertinent data, studies and reports to accurately identify and address a variety of precursors to childhood obesity, the City aims to significantly reduce the occurrence of childhood obesity in the City of Newark. The program is being overseen by the Newark Youth Policy Board and the Let’s Move! Newark Council. Let’s Move! Newark has brought opportunities for healthier food choices and physical activity to Newarkers through many initiatives, including: the Marching 4 PALA campaign that challenges youth to get 60 minutes of activity today and earn a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) and the Cory Booker Challenge, an online fitness game that encourages participants to earn points and awards when they participate in physical activities. Mayor Booker serves as the Honorary Vice Chair of the Partnership for a Healthier America and has made the health and well-being of Newark’s residents a priority for the Booker Administration.
Mick Cornett, Mayor of Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett famously put his entire city on a diet, resulting in 47,000 residents losing one million pounds. More importantly, Cornett started a community-wide conversation that opened the doors to nearly $1 billion in infrastructure investment designed, in large part, to promote a more active lifestyle. Oklahoma City – once on the list of America’s least fit cities – is adding miles of hike and bike trails, senior wellness/aquatic centers, river sports, and a new 70-acre downtown central park. The City is also redesigning and constructing 180 acres of urban streetscapes with an emphasis on pedestrian traffic. Cornett is also co-chair of Wellness Now, a partnership with the City/County Health Department that is currently building a 54-acre health and wellness campus on the city’s northeast side. The project represents far more than a new building that will deliver public health services: it marks a major, innovative shift in approach to improving community health. The Wellness Campus will offer a central location for activities aimed at reducing chronic diseases by focusing on programs that encourage people to become leaner, more active, nutritionally aware and health conscious.
Karl Dean, Mayor of Nashville, TN
Mayor Karl Dean recognizes that healthy eating and active living are not only personal choices for individuals to make every day, but also the result of the built environment in which they live, their family and community culture, and their personal knowledge and awareness about healthy choices. Mayor Dean’s vision for improving the health of Nashville citizens is to have a city where the healthy choice becomes the easy choice for all residents. Mayor Dean is working to instill real change in the health of Nashville citizens by making significant capital investments in infrastructure that supports healthy living, such as sidewalks, bikeways, sports fields, interactive play parks and open space, and then inspiring people of all ages to take advantage of those resources through community-wide health challenges that bring people together.
Mayor Dean’s community health challenges began just months after being sworn into office with the launch of the Mayor’s “Let’s Get Moving Challenge” in April 2008. This initiative was a week-long series of events held in conjunction with National Public Health Week where Mayor Dean challenged Nashville citizens to get active and take advantage of the city’s resources for a healthy lifestyle, especially parks and greenways. Encouraged by a high level of public interest, Mayor Dean began holding monthly neighborhood walks all across the city, which was followed by a “Walk 100 Miles with the Mayor” health challenge in 2011 where over 4,000 Nashvillians walked more than 100,000 miles. With the success of the Walk 100 campaign, Mayor Dean recently initiated other large, public initiatives inspiring the community to be active, such as “The Mayor’s Challenge 5K” and “Mayor’s Field Day with the Tennessee Titans.” Between Mayor Dean’s on-going health challenges and his investment in expanding infrastructure that supports healthy living, Nashville’s leader is shaping a healthier community for this generation and the generations to come.
Ted Ellis, Mayor of Bluffton, IN
The City of Bluffton partnered with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation over five years ago to establish “Operation Wellness,” which jumpstarted an improvement in the general wellness of the community and enhanced the residents’ understanding of what goes into a healthy lifestyle. To encourage more physical activity, through its Parks department, the city expanded its parks and established new areas for children, individuals and families to walk while also sponsoring community competitions called “mileage clubs” to see which students could walk the most. Bluffton also started a program in local schools to encourage more physical activity and getting kids to get outside to play and onto the playground as well as provide juice and healthier beverage options. The program teaches children about nutrition. Realizing that obesity and poor health is family-wide, parents learned what they could do to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
To improve employee wellness, the city established a fitness center in city hall and provided employees 24-hour access to exercise. To encourage residents to improve their health, the city sells low-cost memberships to residents. Bluffton also started regular employee health fairs to provide preventive health screenings and regular health campaigns. Six times a year, the city sponsors a campaign on a specific health concern and brings in a local health expert to talk to employees about the problem and how it can be avoided. When the initial grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation was completed, the residents demonstrated their commitment to health and raised money to start a YMCA to continue the work. Thanks to the success of these wellness efforts, Bluffton has been able to keep its health care costs level for the last four years with no health care cost increases for employees.
Harvey Johnson, Jr., Mayor of Jackson, MS
The City of Jackson’s Employee Wellness Committee partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi in March of 2011 to kick off a ten week walking campaign for city employees. The “Let’s Go Jackson” program encouraged city employees to spend time walking every day to control weight, reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, improve productivity and strengthen their bones and muscles. Mayor Johnson kicked the ten-week event off, and over 200 employees signed up to participate in the program. Employees kept logs of when and how much they walked and reported health benefits from the walking program, including notable weight loss. Employees were awarded for their participation during a special ceremony, and those who walked the most were provided awards from local businesses. Recognition was also given to the City Department with the most participation.
Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, CA
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson created the Greenwise Joint Venture with the objective of transforming Sacramento into the Emerald Valley: the greenest region in the country and a hub for clean technology. Greenwise has a number of actions to do this including a focus on raising the Green IQ through the education of children, K-12 and to promote healthy eating, supporting the region's agricultural economy and preserving farmland. To this end, the Mayor created the first Edible Schoolyard in a high school setting in the state of California. The project, in Sacramento, will include a hands-on kitchen classroom, a complete overhaul of cafeteria services, and an on-campus garden, with the eventual goal of having the students run the cafeteria as a business by partnering with local organic farmers.
Mayor Johnson has used his influence and national reach to establish Dr. Oz’s Health Corps in five area schools, which targets high-need school populations with high incidents of obesity and early on-set diabetes. The City of Sacramento has also adopted the Healthy Vending Nutrition Policy, as well as being recognized as an “Active City” in the Health Eating/Active Living (HEAL) Cities Campaign. Finally, Sacramento can claim credit as home to the nation’s second best park system in the United States by the Trust for Public Land. This recognizes Sacramento specifically for how well the City has provided accessible play space and amenities for its residents.
Larry Johnson, Commissioner of DeKalb County, GA
In 2005, Commissioner Johnson, by Resolution declared “walking” as the official exercise of DeKalb County. Each year he hosts a 4-mile walk as part of the initiative called DeKalb Walks…for the Health of It! The past two years of the initiative have been dedicated to the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. The next walk is scheduled for September 8, 2012. In addition, Commissioner Johnson co-sponsored the first Let’s Move! DeKalb event in June 2011 at the Porter Sanford Center. In May of this year, Commissioner Johnson co-hosted the first ‘DeKalb Day of Play’ and in June hosted the first DeKalb Diabetes Awareness 8-mile bike ride; both in support of Let’s Move! This year, on July 28, 2012, the 2nd Annual Let’s Move! DeKalb event will be held at the Exchange Park Intergenerational Center.
Linda Langston, Supervisor of Linn County, IA
County officials in Linn County, Iowa are committed to improving the health of all those who live, learn and work within the County. The Linn County Board of Health is entering its 5th year of recognizing local public, private and non-profit organizations through a Worksite Wellness Awards Program. In 2012, thirty-five organizations received a no cost assessment to identify strengths and opportunities for making their worksite a healthier place. Large and small workplaces alike appreciate the assistance provided by local health department staff in identifying easy, low or no cost changes grounded in best practice that can facilitate better health for employees and greater productivity for the business. Simple things such as using smaller plates in the cafeteria, stocking vending machines with healthier options, and tobacco free properties can lead the way in long-term behavior change for employees and their families. Additionally, Governor Branstad’s Healthiest State Initiative serves as a driving force of the county’s initiative.
Marie Lopez Rogers, Mayor of Avondale, AZ
Avondale’s leaders are committed to ensuring that the city’s families have the resources to keep kids healthy through its myriad of youth sports and recreation activities, early childhood programs and family services resources. In 2011, Avondale, through a public private partnership, opened the Randall McDaniel Sports Complex, an 80,000 square foot indoor basketball, soccer and volleyball sports facility, to encourage physical activity among youth. The city also partnered with a farmers market co-op to host Saturday morning farmers markets at Avondale Friendship Park so that residents have access to fresh, locally grown produce. Additionally, the city’s Civic Center campus is the site of a community garden, The Garden Patch, where residents can lease small plots of land to grow and harvest their own fruits and vegetables. Avondale has long promoted walking and cycling through its participation in programs such as Safe Routes to School/Walk to School Day, and its commitment to building walking trails, bike lanes and open space amenities all across the city. The Mayor’s monthly City Hall Comes to You initiative has also focused on healthy eating, with nutrition demonstrations at a local Food City grocery store, and “Come and Play” events for young children and parents at the Avondale Library. Avondale also partners with its six school districts, the Boys & Girls Club, and a host of other groups to keep the city on the move.
Jack Reed, Jr., Mayor of Tupelo, MS
Mayor Reed established the “Mayor’s Task Force On A Healthy City,” a passionate all-citizen group which founded the “Health On A Shelf” initiative, now nationally recognized, which puts healthy choices in convenience stores throughout the city. He also began “The Mayor’s Marathon” which has resulted in all 4000 K-12 Tupelo Public School students running 26.2 miles in a month (a mile every school day) for 3 years in a row, giving them the opportunity to experience daily exercise and earn a signed certificate of success from “Mayor Jack”! In co-operation with the Tupelo Parks and Recreation Department, the Tupelo Public Schools, and citizen volunteers, the mayor also established the “Safe Splash Program” which teaches every second grader how to swim, providing them with both a life-saving skill and a life-time sport.
Joe Riley, Mayor of Charleston, SC
Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. has been a supporter of healthier lifestyles for Charlestonians for all of his ten terms of service. Thirty-five years ago, he was one of the founders of the Cooper River Bridge Run, which today is one of the nation’s largest and most successful 10K road races. More recently, he founded Lighten Up Charleston. This mayoral initiative has as its goal to make Charleston the healthiest city in the southeast. He has challenged local hospitals, schools, colleges, businesses, health agencies, physicians and community leaders to join together to encourage Charlestonians to lose a goal of 100,000 pounds. A website, www.lightenupcharleston.org, has been established to help citizens track their weight loss and to encourage healthy eating habits and physical activity. Mayor Riley believes that in a community where more than 40% of public school students are overweight, physical activity and healthy eating habits are critical skills for all citizens to learn.
“Reading is a way to travel in your mind,” said Cornell McClellan, the First Family’s Nutrition and Fitness Trainer, to over 130 students from DC area schools, camps, and youth programs at the first of ED’s four part Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series.
McClellan joined Secretary Arne Duncan and Sam Kass, assistant chef and senior policy advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives at the White House, to read and talk to more than 100 local children about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and learning over the summer. Students Jaden McDowell and Kylie Peterson, from DC’s United Planning Organization, had the honor of introducing the secretary and his guests to kick off the activities.
Kass read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and described the balanced meals he cooks for the First Family, while McClellan chose Jonathan London’s Froggy Learns to Swim. “It’s important to just move because almost any activity that you enjoy can be used as a fun exercise,” said McClellan before starting the Let’s Move! portion of the event.
Secretary Duncan, Kass, and McClellan, led the students outside for games and fitness activities. “If you exercise more, I actually think you do better in school,” Duncan said.
The children participated in games and fitness activities directed by ED’s partner, the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington Physical, Healthy, Drive (PHD) program. Kass and McClellan joined the students in a shopping cart nutrition relay while the secretary shot some hoops with children. Each child also received a book bag and a book of their choice while they snacked on fresh fruit, granola bars, and water.
In addition to Sam Kass and Cornell McClellan, Susan Hildreth, the director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, also joined Secretary Duncan at the event. The Let’s Read! Let’s Move! event was the first of four events held at ED this summer to support First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, which promotes healthy eating and an active lifestyle, while also encouraging summer reading and adults reading to children.
Cydney Adams is a student at the University of Georgia and an intern in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach.