Making Moves with “Let’s Move!” Campaign to end Childhood Obesity
So it’s black history month and this blog will honor those spoken, and unspoken heroes of the green and natural movement by making this place a better place for us all. So who better to honor than of course, our First Lady, Michelle Obama with her Let’s Move! campaign. She has been on the talk show circuit all this week celebrating the 1st anniversary commemorating Let’s Move to end childhood obesity. First I wanna say that I appreciate the FL taking the initiative on this issue and allowing us to have this conversation about the choices we make when it comes to our food and having healthier habits. So far, Lets Move! is already in its first year with its first legislative victory, The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act 2010 under its belt. Also, the FL has done something unprecedented by teaming up with Wal-Mart to provide better access to fresh and organic produce and cutting back on the salt and sugar in their products.
So what is Lets Move!? It is a campaign headed by the FL to help end childhood obesity in a generation. Its main strategic goals are to increase access to healthy food and making it affordable, give parents the right tools and guides for them to make informed decisions, increase physical activity, and to provide healthy food in our schools. Over the past 30 years, Childhood obesity has tripled. In fact, almost one in every 3 children are overweight or obese. According to www.letsmove.gov , if something is not done to combat this problem, one-third of all our children born after 2000 will experience diabetes, heart disease, and asthma at some point in their lifetimes. That’s a pretty alarming statistic. Also, kids today are not getting enough excercise. The average child spends about 7.5 hours in front of a television, computer, or playing video games. I know I came up during the era of Atari, Nintendo, and Sega Genesis, but back when I was a kid, all we did was play outside, especially during the summertime or after homework was done. All we played was touch football in the street, double dutch, jump rope, and trying to out race each other up and down the street. All the while burning off those calories and sugar from now laters, freezee pops, and hug juices. I feel like an old lady now, but darn it, kids these days don’t know how to play. I watched the FL hoola hoop on the WH lawn about a year or so ago and it made me think 1. What FL did I know that hoola hooped and did this and 2. It really is kinda sad that kids today don’t get enough physical activity that existed when I was a kid. I really commend the FL for taking this step forward to promote exercise and healthy eating habits. But I digress…
The rest of the website gives parents the tools and information they need to make an informed decision about their eating choices. As parents sometimes it’s just easier to go for prepared meals or take out because we don’t always have time to cook. Then there are those like myself who are not home during dinnertime to know exactly what their child is eating. They also give facts and links from the CDC and you can even calculate your child’s Body Mass Index(BMI). The FL has aligned herself with such groups as the American Academy of Pediatrics and has created Chefs Move to Schools program to have chefs come to create a menu plan with the schools.
Michelle Obama even helped create the first White House Garden with the help of some local school children. There, vegetables and herbs, such as ButterHead lettuce, broccoli and thyme are grown as well as sweet potatoes and a beehive for honey. The White House has used these in many state dinners and other functions and have donated them to local charities and shelters. Schools have now gotten into the act by growing their own gardens to teach kids about sustainability and have direct access to fresh produce from local farms through the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act. The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 was signed into law on December 13th 2010. The act is a bipartisan law to revamp school lunches and increase access and availability to fresh produce, create new guidelines for school breakfast and lunch programs, and focus on reducing childhood obesity. It also makes schools accountable by requiring school districts to be audited every 3 years to meet compliance and properly train school food service personnel on identifying hazards and recall food items. The rest can be found here at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/12/13/president-obama-signs-healthy-hunger-free-kids-act-2010-law .
The FL has even chosen to align herself with the Sith. In January it was announced that she will team up with Wal-Mart to push for access to fresh and organic produce by dropping its prices and to push for its suppliers to cut back on salt, fats and sugar in their products. I know that people love to think of Wal-Mart at the Sith lord Darth Vader, but there is some good that can come out of this. For one Wal-Mart has vowed to lower prices on its produce and develop its own logo to recognize organic produce. They will also build more stores in undeserving communities, make thousands of its packaged food items that it sells more healthy and affordable by 2015, and increase charitable donations to nutritious programs. Another step that Wal-Mart has taken is to lower the costs of generic prescription drugs and eliminate waste from its store and to make their trucks more fuel-efficient. Ok, I shop at Wal-Mart from time to time because it’ just right across the street from where I work. I am certainly not a huge fan of the chain(abhor its anti-union stance, employment discrimination, and shitty customer service), but I do say that this is a positive step in the right direction for a corporation such as this to follow. I mean, isn’t this what we want them to do because it’s the ethical thing to do? And let’s be honest, corporations make money. They answer to their shareholders AND stakeholders so of course everyone is going to be affected by this. But for people to act as if Wal-Mart should not have anything to gain from this is really just nitpicking at best. The naysayers have already panned it and claims that the FL sold out on whatever made up principle they came up with. Because aligning yourself with Darth Vader instead of fighting a losing battle means you’ve sold out. No, complaining about a plan of action that you don’t know whether or not will work means you’ve sold out. It also mean, that you’re hating(Hi Hater!). A behemoth such as the eeeevil Wal-Mart is finally coming around and cutting back on sugar and salt but it’s bullshit because most of it will still be processed anyway. Of course they stand to lose from this by lowering the sugar and salt content from their packaged foods but at the same time, they gain a foothold in the marketplace by offering organic produce and other items. Bill Simon, Wal-Mart executive had this to say, “No family should have to choose between food that is healthier for them and food they can afford. With more than 140 million customers a week, Wal-Mart is uniquely positioned to make a difference by making food healthier and more affordable to everyone.” They are the market leader to create a chain reaction for others to follow suit. As the saying goes, so goes Wal-Mart, so goes everyone else.
So I commend the FL and congratulate the success of Lets Move! so far and teaming up with Wal-Mart. They have identified over 70 strategies to implement and have helped push for legislation to get passed. They have had many to sing it’s praises from chefs such as Tom Colicchio and Cat Cora, to politicians such as US Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) and Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), and food advocacy groups such as Think Food Group. They have even hooked up with partners such as the NFL and the culinary community. Do I know that Wal-Mart will not try to screw us over? Who knows. Again, I’m not panning this idea just yet, but it was just announced about 2 weeks ago so for me to say it’s a winner/loser is a little early. But I do want to say that I am glad that a major corporation such as this has taken this step forward for the better. So here’s to you First Lady Michelle Obama.
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