Political Musings June 16, 2014: Obama is now just as loved or not as Bush as favorable ratings hit new lows

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

History Headlines February 28, 2014: Thousands of Bill Clinton White House Papers Released

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY HEADLINE NEWS

History Buzz

HISTORY MAKING HEADLINES

Thousands of Bill Clinton White House Papers Released

Source: NYT, 2-28-14

Newly released papers underscored what a pivotal force Hillary Rodham Clinton was in her husband’s White House, intimately involved in the policy and politics that shaped Washington in the 1990s….READ MORE

Political Musings January 20, 2014 First Lady Michelle Obama turns 50 and fabulous with star-studded dance party

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

First Lady Michelle Obama turns 50 and fabulous with star-studded dance party

By Bonnie K. Goodman

First Lady Michelle Obama has had a busy birthday week leading up to turning “50 and fabulous” on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 and capping it all off with a star-studded dance party called “Snacks & Sips…READ MORE

Political Musings January 1, 2014: Obamas, Clinton send hospitalized former First Lady Barbara Bush recovery wishes

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obamas, Clinton send hospitalized former First Lady Barbara Bush recovery wishes

By Bonnie K. Goodman

A Bush family statement released on New Year’s Eve, Tuesday Dec. 31, 2013 made public that beloved former First Lady Barbara Bush was hospitalized on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013 at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas Medical Center. She…READ MORE

Political Headlines January 1, 2014: Former First Lady Barbara Bush Remains Hospitalized in Houston

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Barbara Bush Remains Hospitalized in Houston

Source: ABC News, 1-1-14

Former first lady Barbara Bush remains hospitalized with a respiratory-related issue, but her condition hasn’t changed, a spokesman for her husband’s office said Wednesday….READ MORE

Political Musings December 8, 2013: Obama, former Presidents, world leaders honor Nelson Mandela will attend funeral

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama, former Presidents, world leaders honor Nelson Mandela will attend funeral

By Bonnie K. Goodman

As the world’s nations and their leaders mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela at the age of 95 after a lengthy illness late Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 flags all over the world were ordered to fly at half…READ MORE

Political Headlines December 4, 2013: First Lady Michelle Obama Previews the 2013 White House Holiday Decorations

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

First Lady Michelle Obama Previews the 2013 White House Holiday Decor

Source: WH, 12-4-13

First Lady Michelle Obama and children of military families participate in a craft project in the State Dining Room during the White House holiday press preview, Dec. 4, 2013. Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses helps children decorate Springerle cookie ornFirst Lady Michelle Obama and children of military families participate in a craft project in the State Dining Room during the White House holiday press preview, Dec. 4, 2013. Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses helps children decorate Springerle cookie ornaments. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama previewed the 2013 White House holiday décor to a crowd of military families who were the first of more than 70,000 anticipated visitors this holiday season. Mrs. Obama announced this year’s theme, Gather Around: Stories of the Season, a celebration of the stories and traditions that bring us together this special time of year. “Our goal is for every room and every tree to tell a story about who we are and how we gather around one another to mark the holidays,” she said. The custom of selecting an official holiday theme began in the 1960s when First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy created a nutcracker-themed Christmas for her daughter Caroline….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency December 4, 2013: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Remarks at 2013 Christmas Holiday Press Preview

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the First Lady at 2013 Holiday Press Preview

Source: WH, 12-4-13

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

First lady Michelle Obama spoke to military families in front of the White House Christmas tree on Wednesday.

East Room
1:32 P.M. EST
MRS. OBAMA:  Well, hello, everyone.  You guys look great — I’m talking about the front row.  (Laughter.)  You guys look okay, too.  Well, I am thrilled to welcome you all here to the White House.  Are you excited?
CHILDREN:  Yes!
MRS. OBAMA:  Why are you excited?  (Laughter.)  Because it’s Christmas?  Because you’re going to get presents soon?  Because there may be treats somewhere?  Yes, a few heads nodding.  Well, we’re excited to have you guys here with us today.
I want to start by thanking Diane and her amazing family for all that they’ve done for this country and for that eloquent introduction, and for being one of the many fabulous volunteers who helped make this White House so beautiful.  In fact, Diane told me that she got to work in this room, so we can personally thank her for this beautiful — these beautiful decorations.  Diane, we’re just so grateful to you.  And I want you all to know a little bit about Diane — that in addition to the long hours that she put in this week, on top of all of that, she has spent countless hours volunteering regularly in her community through her church, through the Red Cross.
So volunteering is no stranger — or Diane is no stranger to volunteering.  In fact, Diane isn’t alone in the contributions she’s making — in fact, I believe she embodies the spirit that we see in military families –- families like all of yours all across this country, particularly during the holiday season.  You all are serving our nation.  You all are volunteering in your communities every day.  And you’re also taking care of business at home with your own families.
And during this holiday season, as we gather with our loved ones, I’d ask every American to remember what our military families and servicemembers often experience during this time of year.  Let us all remember the sacrifices they make to proudly serve all of us.
For example, I’m thinking today about the thousands of men and women in uniform serving abroad who wake up in the middle of the night in some remote part of the world to read a special holiday story to their children over Skype, or to be there on the screen to experience that special moment of joy when their kids open those presents from Santa.
And then there are the military families who spend hours painstakingly filling holiday care packages for their loved ones in uniform –- sending them miniature Christmas trees, making holiday cookies, creating special homemade cards, doing their best to help them experience the magic of the holidays wherever they may be.
And let us remember that many military families are assigned to bases that are far from their extended families, so they aren’t always able to make it home to see grandma and grandpa.  And as a consequence, they have to find new ways to make the season bright.  So they reach out, and they band together with other families, and they create their own special military family celebrations and traditions.  And that’s what I’ve learned that military families do.
No matter what challenges you all face –- during the holidays or any other time during the year — you all just dig a little deeper.  I say this time and time again.  You just get creative and you find ways to make it work, and you do it with such strength and humor and grace.  And on top of all of that, somehow, like Diane, so many of you still manage to find time over the holidays and throughout the year to give back to your communities, once again digging deep and going above and beyond.
In fact, a recent survey shows that 81 percent of military family members reported volunteering in the past year, and that’s compared to just 27 percent of the general public.  So you guys really make us all look bad.  (Laughter.)  But in short, your sacrifice and your service to this country, your families’ stories are such an important part of our great American story — stories that remind us of the true meaning of the holiday season.
And that actually brings me to this year’s official White House holiday theme, which is “Gather Around: Stories of the Season.”  This holiday season, we’ll be focusing on the stories behind classic American holiday traditions — traditions celebrated here at the White House and across the country.  Our goal is for every room and every tree to tell a story about who we are and how we gather around one another to mark the holidays.
And that starts with all of you — literally.  In fact, when visitors arrive, the very first thing they’ll see is a tree decorated to pay tribute to our Armed Forces.  This tree, graced with special Gold Star ornaments, tells the story of some of our greatest heroes:  Those who gave their lives for our country.  And any Gold Star family who visits the White House can create their own ornament to honor their loved one.  In addition, everyone who visits this White House this year gets a chance to fill out an Operation Honor Card pledging to serve their community in honor of our military families, your servicemembers, your veterans, whoever you choose, just find a way to serve.
We also have an entire room — it’s right next door, it’s the Blue Room, one of my favorite rooms — dedicated to the idea of gathering around our military.  The tree in that room is decorated with holiday greeting cards drawn by military children from bases all across the country as a way to celebrate their parents’ service.  And they’re beautiful, they’re really sweet cards.
So that’s how we’ll be honoring our veterans and servicemembers and their families this holiday season.  And I would ask during this time that every American find a way to honor these great Americans, not just during the holidays, but every day.  And let us never forget the debt that we owe these men and women and their amazing families.
As for the rest of the house, because there is more, we have a number of special touches that build on our “Gather Around: Stories of the Season” theme.  In the East Garden Room, you’ll see Christmas trees made entirely of stacks of books.  You may have seen those coming in, they’re very cool.  In the Cross Hall, you’ll see trees reflecting the idea of gathering around our heritage.  They’ll be decorated with ornaments representing great American sites like the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore, and there’s some silhouettes of people you might know today in history, so you guys will look and see if you recognize anyone.
And of course, we have our usual first dog display.  This year, Bo will be joined by his little sister Sunny, our new pup, and the two of them will be surrounded by books.  And I was surprised to see last night, this year they actually move.  They’re mechanical.  This is a new step.  We’re stepping up in the world of Bo-and-Sunny honoring.  And these are just a few of this year’s highlights.
Although people who visit the White House will see dozens of trees and wreaths, they’re going to see thousands of ornaments and they’re going to see a gingerbread house that weighs about 300 pounds — it’s pretty big — some of the best sights they’ll see are kids enjoying all of this just wonderful glory.  Some of the best times in this White House is just watching the faces of kids as they walk through this house and count the trees and look at the ornaments.
And none of this would be possible without the 83 volunteers like Diane who came from all across the country to help us decorate, once again, sacrificing, leaving their families — because they start decorating this house the day after Thanksgiving.  It would not be possible for us to do all of this without our volunteers.  They are a pleasure to work with, they are high-energy, they are positive.  And just look around.  I mean, every year they just outdo themselves.  So we are just so grateful for their hard work and enthusiasm.
Now, over the course of this season, about 70,000 people will come to see our holiday decorations — not bad.  And I can’t imagine a better group of people than all of you to be our very first guests.  Don’t you feel special?  No one has seen these, not even the President has seen these.  (Applause.)  He hasn’t seen them yet.  You guys are the first.
And truly, it is a treat to make you all the first every season, because you all do so much for us.  And we are so proud and so honored and so grateful.  And we just want to give you a chance to bring your families in to just get a little special something just to remind you just how special we all think you are.
So I want you all to enjoy every minute in this house.  I’m going to stop right now because we’ve got a little something we’re going to do with the kids.  All the kids, you guys think you’re ready to go have some fun?
CHILDREN:  Yes!
MRS. OBAMA:  I’m going to take your kids.  (Laughter.)  And don’t worry, nothing can be broken that can’t be repaired.  I guarantee you my kids have broken it if it can be broken.  And we’re going to go and do some decorating.  Our chefs and our bakers and our florists — they’re over there — they’ve got special little things that you can make, little gifts.  You guys ready for that?
CHILD:  Yes, ma’am!
MRS. OBAMA:  Yes, ma’am!  (Laughter.)  I love that.  So why don’t you guys get up.  You guys can come and go with me.  Parents, you guys hang out.  Get some cider, some cookies, look at the ornaments.  Breathe a little bit.  They’re in good hands.  I guarantee you we will not lose them — but I can’t guarantee you they will come back clean.  (Laughter.)  That’s the only thing I can’t guarantee, so if you want pictures of them clean, do it now.  (Laughter.)
And thank you.  Have a happy holiday, from my family to all of yours.  Enjoy this holiday season.  Be safe, be happy.  And gather round together, and remember what this is all about.
You all, take care.  Love you much.  (Applause.)
END
1:43 P.M. EST

Political Musings December 1, 2013: Obamas kick-off Christmas holiday season celebrating with traditions

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obamas kick-off Christmas holiday season celebrating with traditions

By Bonnie K. Goodman

First Lady Michelle Obama, with daughters Sasha and Malia, along with Obama family pets Bo and Sunny, welcome the arrival of the official White House Christmas tree at the North Portico of the White House, Nov. 29, 2013.
(Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

First Lady Michelle Obama presides over the arrival of the Official White House Christmas tree which will spend the holiday adorning the White House Blue Room, Nov. 29, 2013; the First Lady, daughters Malia and Sasha and first pups, Bo and Sunny greeted the tree

President Barack Obama and his family celebrated Thanksgiving and the kick-off of the holiday season as families did across the country, a festive Thanksgiving meal, reaching out to family by phone, Christmas decorating and commencing holiday shopping. However, their…READ MORE

Political Musings November 29, 2013: Post-Presidential life & legacy focus of Barbara Walters’ interview with Obamas

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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Political Headlines July 2, 2013: Michelle Obama & Laura Bush at George W. Bush Institute’s First Annual African First Ladies Summit

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Michelle Obama, Laura Bush Bemoan Focus on Their Looks

Source: WH, 7-2-13

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Tuesday to highlight the role of African first ladies, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama sat down together to dish on their husbands and share the frustrations of constant public scrutiny, telling ABC News’ Cokie Roberts that there’s no preparation for the complications of life in the White House.

Michelle Obama said first ladies have “probably the best jobs in the world” because their husbands, “who have to react and respond to crisis on a minute-by-minute basis … come into office with a wonderful, profound agenda, and then they’re faced with the reality. On the other hand, we [first ladies] get to work on what we’re passionate about.”…READ MORE

History Buzz April 16, 2012: Darlene Clark Hine: First Lady Michelle Obama, Paradox, African American Studies Professor & Historian Says

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Darlene Clark Hine: First Lady Michelle Obama, paradox, African American Studies Professor & Historian Says

Source: WaPo, 4-16-12

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive to welcome Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha Cameron to the White House prior to a state dinner. (Susan Walsh – AP) Northwestern University.

“Michelle Obama is a genuine paradox,” said Michel, a professor of African American studies and history at Hine’s lecture, part of a black studies conference at the university last week, argued that the first lady is a “transformative, liberationist” figure — despite her interest in domestic issues and the long list of magazine cover stories focused on topics such as Obama’s approach to motherhood or the importance of healthful eating.

“I caution: Let us not be distracted by a first lady draped in gowns, gracing the covers of women’s magazine’s from ‘Essence’ to ‘Vogue’ or a first lady on her knees planting a White House garden or a first lady jumping double-dutch rope with an array of young girls,” Hine said. “Rather let us appreciate the paradox.”

“What you think you see and know of her may not be all that is important to know about her,” Hine said in an interview after her lecture. “People see her as these labels – black and woman – and they see her acting in domestic ways – focused on home, hearth and family – as if there is no political agenda.”

“She is using the politics of self-development, neighborliness, and that will lead the the future election of just and humane individuals,” Hine said. “The lives you save today will make the changes that you suggest to them in the future.”

Full Text February 13, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama’s CNN Op-ed for Let’s Move! 2nd Anniversary “Changing the Conversation on Healthy Eating”

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Michelle Obama: Changing the Conversation on Healthy Eating

Source: WH, 2-13-12

First Lady Michelle Obama Olive Garden Dinner

First Lady Michelle Obama holds a roundtable dinner discussion at an Olive Garden restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, Feb. 9, 2012. Mrs. Obama met with the parents to hear their ideas on how Let’s Move! can continue to support families across the country. In September 2011, Darden, the world’s largest full service restaurant company which owns Olive Garden, made a commitment to improve their kids menus by offering a fruit or vegetable and low-fat milk with every meal, as well as reduce total calories and sodium across their menus. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

Back when we first launched Let’s Move! — a nationwide initiative to end our childhood obesity epidemic — in the back of my mind, I wondered whether it was really possible to make a difference.

I knew how serious this problem is. Nearly one in three of our children are overweight or obese, at risk for illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer that cost our economy billions of dollars each year to treat.

I also knew the conventional wisdom on this issue. There’s the assumption that kids don’t like healthy food, so why try to feed it to them? There’s the belief that healthy food doesn’t sell as well, so companies will never change the products they offer. And there’s the sense that this problem is so big and entrenched that no matter what we do, we’ll never be able to solve it.

But over the past two years, we have seen a new conversation in this country about how we live and eat and how that affects the health and well-being of our kids. Since we launched Let’s Move!, people from every corner of this country who care about our children’s futures have stepped up and proved the conventional wisdom wrong.

Read the entire op-ed from the First Lady at CNN.com

More from the Let’s Move tour:
Michelle Obama: If You Are Doing Great Work, Tell Me About It
Michelle Obama Judges “Top Chef”
On the Road with Let’s Move
Watch: Behind the Scenes on the Let’s Move Tour
Two Years of Healthy Changes for Our Nation’s Kids
View a slideshow from the tour

Full Text February 2, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama Talks About Being a Mentor in More Magazine Black History Month Interview

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Michelle Obama Talks About Being a Mentor

Source: WH, 2-2-12
First Lady Michelle Obama at Girls Mentoring eventFirst Lady Michelle Obama drops by the Girls Mentoring November activity in room 430 of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Nov. 29, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

February is Black History Month, and his year’s theme, “Black Women in American Culture and History,” honors African American women and the many roles they’ve played in the shaping of our nation.

And in an interview with More magazine, First Lady Michelle Obama talks candidly about one of the roles that matters most to her, one that has been a part of her life since she was in high school, one that can have a crucial influence in shaping the next generation of American women and one she urges others to embrace: Mentor.

Mrs. Obama discusses the impact mentors have had in her life, and also what being a mentor has meant to her (one of the first people she mentored as a lawyer in Chicago was a fellow graduate of Harvard Law School named Barack Obama: “I made sure that he met the partners that he was working with; I had to take him out to lunch a couple of times” she tells the magazine).

And for the first time, the First Lady discusses a program she launched shortly after moving into the White House, a mentoring program she designed “to open a secret door for others that hadn’t been opened for me,” by pairing disadvantaged girls with some of the powerful women in the land. She tells the magazine:

“I wanted [the students] to experience this notion that if you can walk [through] the doors of the White House once a month and sit down with the first lady and her chief of staff and some other senior officials, and they’re talking to you and you get used to hearing your voice in the space, then it becomes not a big deal.”

And so her program pairs teenage girls with “this wonderful array of women who come from different backgrounds,” she says. “They’re senior leaders in President Obama’s administration, and they all have a story, right? They all have a set of challenges and struggles.” Those stories, Obama believes, are best told in person, over time, creating the kind of enduring bond the social media generation sorely lacks. “Even though our children are connecting in ways we never imagined,” she told a national summit on mentoring not long ago, “you’ve got an entire generation of young people truly in desperate need of a friend. Someone they can trust, an example they can follow.”

Full Text January 25, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Remarks at U.S. Department of Agriculture’s New School Lunch Nutrition Standards Announcement at Parklawn Elementary School

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Healthy Changes on the Menu for School Lunches

Source: WH, 1-25-12

First Lady Michelle Obama has lunch with Parklawn Elementary  School students
First Lady Michelle Obama joins children for lunch at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., Jan. 25, 2012. Mrs. Obama was joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and celebrity cook Rachael Ray for a Let’s Move! event celebrating the school’s food service employees serving healthy meals that meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new and improved nutrition standards for school lunches. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today introduced new rules that mean America’s school children will soon be eating healthier lunches in the cafeteria.

The new USDA guidelines, which implement important provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, substantially increase the amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on the menu, while reducing saturated fat, trans fats and sodium, and set calorie limits based on the age of children being served. The standards make the same kinds of practical changes that many parents are already encouraging at home, and that are a key pillar of Let’s Move, the First Lady’s initiative that is focused on improving child nutrition and reducing childhood obesity.

Speaking at the Parklawn elementary school in Alexandria, VA, Mrs Obama praised parents for their contribution to the movement to improve the food served in schools:

When we send our kids to school, we have a right to expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we’re trying to keep from them when they’re at home.  We have a right to expect that the food they get at school is the same kind of food that we want to serve at our own kitchen tables.

After the press conference, the First Lady and Secretary Vilsack joined students for a healthy lunch of turkey tacos, black bean and corn salad and fresh fruit, prepared by celebrity chef Rachael Ray.

 POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the First Lady in School Lunch Standards Announcement

Parklawn Elementary School
Alexandria, Virginia

11:32 A.M. EST

MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you, everyone.  Please, sit, rest.  This is exciting.  It is such a pleasure to be here today.  This is an exciting day.

I want to start by thanking Secretary Vilsack, not just for that very kind introduction but for his outstanding work as Secretary of Agriculture.  He has been just a major proponent on so many issues that are near and dear to me, and we wouldn’t be here without his efforts and the efforts of his entire agency.  So, thank you, sir.

I’d also like to thank Principal Akroyd and Jen Fitzgerald for their terrific work and for hosting us here today at Parklawn Elementary School.  Go, Panthers!  (Laughter.)  I hear you’re the “purring Panthers.”  (Laughter.)  It’s very, very good — very good.  We are so happy to be here and so proud of you all.

And I want to recognize all of the educators, the administrators, the food service workers and the advocates who are here today for everything that you do, every day, on behalf of our kids.  This is a great celebration for us all.

And of course, I want to give a special hello to Rachael Ray, who’s a special guest here.  I know she’s hard at work getting lunch ready, and I am hungry — (laughter) — so I’m looking forward to it.  But she has been a true advocate on this issue for quite some time, and we’re just thrilled that she’s here with us today.

And finally, I want to thank all of the parents who are here today — because, I just want to be clear that we can’t make any mistake about it — this movement to improve the food in our schools is happening in large part because of all of you, the parents.  It’s happening because you all stood up.  It’s happening because you all spoke out and you asked for something better for our kids.

Because, as parents, we all know that if left to their own devices, many of our kids would eat candy for breakfast, they’d follow it up with a few French fries for lunch and cookies and chips for snacks, and then they’d come home for a big chocolate sundae for dinner, right?  (Laughter.)  And we know that it is our responsibility, as adults, to make sure they don’t do that.  So it’s our responsibility to make sure that they get basic nutrition that they need to stay healthy.

And that’s why so many of us try so very hard to prepare decent meals at home, and to limit how much junk food they get at home, and to ensure that they have a reasonably balanced diet.   And when we’re putting forth this kind of effort at home — and many of us are, and it’s difficult to do every single day — it’s always a challenge, particularly with tough economic times and not enough time in the day — but when we’re putting forth these efforts, when we’re doing what we’re supposed to do at home, the last thing we want is to have all these hard efforts, all this hard work undone in the school cafeteria.

When we send our kids to school, we have a right to expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we’re trying to keep from them when they’re at home.  We have a right to expect that the food they get at school is the same kind of food that we want to serve at our own kitchen tables.

And let’s be clear, this isn’t just about our kids’ health. Studies have shown that our kids’ eating habits can actually affect their academic performance as well.  And I’m sure that comes as no surprise to the educators here today.  Anyone who works with kids knows that they need something other than chips and soda in their stomachs if they’re going to focus on math and science, right?  Kids can’t be expected to sit still and concentrate when they’re on a sugar high, or when they’re stuffed with salty, greasy food — or when they’re hungry.

And that brings me to another important point.  For many kids whose families are struggling, school meals can be their main — or only — source of nutrition for the entire day.  So when we serve higher-quality food in our schools, we’re not just fighting childhood obesity; we’re taking the important steps that are needed to fight child hunger as well.

And that’s why so many schools across this country have been working so hard to improve the food that they serve to our kids in school.  In fact, there are many schools that have been meeting these new standards for years, long before this legislation was passed.  Thousands more have made significant improvements, offering their students a whole array of healthy — and tasty, mind you — new options.

For example, right here at Parklawn and in schools throughout this district, you all are doing some wonderful things, serving baked chicken tenders instead of frying them — small things; replacing white rice with brown rice.  You’re offering all kinds of veggie side dishes, everything from succotash to broccoli, exposing kids to a whole array of wonderful tastes and flavors.

And we’re seeing changes like these in schools all across the country, of all sizes — rural, urban and suburban.  And I’m not just talking about schools in well-off areas with plenty of resources.  I’m talking about schools like F.S. Ervin — it’s an elementary school in Pine Hall [sic], Alabama.  Now, Pine Hall [sic] is a little-bitty town, rural town, with a population under 1,000 and an average household income of less than $26,000.  But they have made some important changes to their school menu already — things like replacing canned vegetables with fresh or frozen ones, moving in more whole grains, offering plenty of fresh fruit, and even baking their French fries instead of frying them.  These are small changes.

And plenty of schools like F.S. Ervin are getting creative in this way.  There are schools around the country that are holding taste tests and recipe contests to get kids really involved in the whole change — give kids a competition and they’ll get involved.  There are schools that are partnering with farmers and with chefs in their communities, and that’s making a difference.  They’re making these small, daily changes — simple things like replacing whole milk with skim milk — changes that add up over time and it can make a real difference in the life of our kids.

And again and again, schools are finding that when they actually offer these healthier options, kids aren’t just willing to try them, they actually like them.  That’s the thing, that’s the surprising thing.  I’ve been to so many schools across the country where parents see their kids eating fresh vegetables off the vine, kids they say would never try anything, but that’s the beauty of children — they change.  They change much easier than we do, and when we give them an opportunity to try something new, they embrace it oftentimes, and they come back for more.

So while budgets are tight right now, there are schools across the country that are showing that it doesn’t take a whole lot of money or resources to give our kids the nutrition they deserve.  What it does take, however, is effort.  What it does take is imagination.  What it does take is a commitment to our children’s futures.

So today, I am asking parents and educators and food service workers across this country to embrace this effort on behalf of our children.  Embrace it.  Because we all know that we are some of the best role models for our kids.  We are the first and best role models.  And if kids are like mine, if I’m excited about something, they’re excited about it — right?  If we as adults embrace it, the kids will follow suit.  They’re looking to us to figure out how to make this happen.  So if we get pumped up about this effort, get excited, get creative, the kids will follow suit and they will do it with vigor and vim, and they’ll be out there out front in a way that we would never expect.

So I want to thank you all once again for all that you do every day on behalf of our children.  I’m excited to be here.  This is a great day, a wonderful accomplishment.  And it’s just exciting to be able to highlight the work that’s being done here at Parklawn.

So now, as I mentioned, I’m a little hungry.  (Laughter.)  I understand that I get to hang out with the kids, have a little lunch.  And it’s turkey tacos!  Sounds really good.  So with that, I want to thank you all for being here, and we’re going to have some lunch.

Thank you all.  (Applause.)

END
11:42 A.M. EST

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