The First Lady hosted a harvest party in the White House garden today with the students from Bancroft Elementary to celebrate their hard work. The 5th graders helped start the organic kitchen garden back in March. Yesterday, with help from the First Lady, they got to prepare a healthy meal with produce fresh from the garden.
More than 90 pounds of produce has been harvested so far. Some of it has been used for meals at the White House, but much of it has gone to area soup kitchens.
The kids harvested lettuce and sugar snap peas then cooked a delicious lunch consisting of salad, baked chicken and brown rice. And once kids finished their salads, they were rewarded with a cupcake topped with fresh garden berries.
This was not only a culmination of their efforts, but it was also the realization of a small dream for the First Lady. She explained that planting an organic garden was one of the first things she wanted to do at the White House because of the severity of health issues facing America’s children:
I thought that this would be a fun and interesting way to talk to kids about healthy eating and nutrition. The President and Congress are going to begin to address health care reform, and these issues of nutrition and wellness and preventative care is going to be the focus of a lot of conversation coming up in the weeks and months to come. And these are issues that I care deeply about, especially when they affect America’s children. (continue reading below)
Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high-blood pressure are all diet-related health issues that cost this country more than $120 billion each year. That’s a lot of money. While the dollar figure is shocking in and of itself, the effect on our children’s health is even more profound. Nearly a third of the children in this country are either overweight or obese, and a third will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lifetime. In Hispanic and African American communities, those numbers climb even higher so that nearly half of the children in those communities will suffer the same fate. Those numbers are unacceptable.
So how do we get our kids to eat healthier? The First Lady stated that if the food tastes good, they’ll eat it:
Well, I’ve learned that if it’s fresh and grown locally, it’s probably going to taste better. That’s what I learned. And that’s how I’ve been able to get my children to try different things, and in particular fruits and vegetables. By making this small change in our family’s diet and adding more fresh produce for my family, Barack, the girls, me, we all started to notice over a very short period of time that we felt much better and we had more energy.
The First Lady said that many Americans live in areas where healthy food is out of reach. This is why community gardens are important. They make healthy, affordable food readily available while bringing communities together. Over 1 million community gardens are flourishing right now, many in underserved urban communities, creating healthier community and healthier kids.
Mrs. Obama also explained how the government can also play a role. The USDA’s National School Lunch Program serves 30 million meals a year in low-income schools. The school meals serve as a main source of nourishment for these kids, so they should be healthy.