The White House
Office of the First Lady
REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY DURING LET’S MOVE! WALMART ANNOUNCEMENT
9:58 A.M. EST
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you all. Thank you so much. Look, I am so excited to be here today because I am thrilled about Walmart’s new Nutrition Charter.
So I want to start off by thanking Bill not just for that kind introduction, but for all that he and his colleagues have done to make this day possible.
I also want to thank Leslie Dach and Andrea Thomas for joining us today and for their tireless efforts. They have been working so hard with my staff to bring us this exciting new initiative.
And I also want to recognize Jim Gavin here, who’s the Chairman of the Partnership for a Healthier America. That organization is going to play a critical role in making this Nutrition Charter a success. So we are delighted to have him join us, as well.
Now, I wanted to be here today, it was important for me to be here, first and foremost, because I believe this Charter is a huge victory for folks all across this country. It’s a victory for parents. It’s a victory for families. But most of all, it’s a victory for our children.
But I’m also here today because I think this new initiative represents something so much bigger, because the truth is -- and let me share this -- when we decided to take on the issue of childhood obesity, I have to tell you in the back of my mind, I wondered to myself whether we could really make a difference, because when you take on a problem this big and this complicated, at times it can be a little overwhelming. You start to wonder: Is what we’re trying to do here really going to make a difference? Are folks really interested and ready to make the kinds of changes that are going to be necessary to get our kids in a healthy place? Is what we’re doing actually going to make our kids better?
But today, when I see a company like Walmart launch an initiative like this, I feel more hopeful than ever before that the answer to these questions is yes.
Efforts like this show us that yes, we can improve how we make and sell food in this country. We can do that. And we can feed our kids better.
Yes, we can give parents better information so that they can make better decisions for their families. We can do this.
And yes, there are CEOs like Bill Simon out there and so many others across this country who are willing to step up and help us solve this problem, not just as executives who care about their company’s bottom lines, but as parents and as grandparents who care about our nation’s children.
And it’s not just business leaders who are stepping up, we have learned. Since we’ve launched “Let’s Move” nearly a year ago, we’ve seen folks from every sector of our society stepping up. We have seen educators planting school gardens and providing healthier school meals. We’ve seen doctors screening kids for obesity and teaching parents how to address the issue in their own homes. Mayors are building playgrounds and bike paths to help families be more active. Our faith leaders are urging their congregations to lead healthier lifestyles.
And Congress is getting into the act, as well. Just last month, as Bill mentioned, my husband signed the Health and Hunger-Free Kids Act. This is historic legislation that’s going to provide more nutritious school meals to millions of American children. (Applause.) It’s a big step up. (Applause.)
And today, with this announcement, the largest corporation in America is launching a new initiative that has the potential to transform the marketplace and to help American families put healthier food on their tables every single day.
This Nutrition Charter promises a real change that can have a fundamental impact in how our kids eat, you see, because when parents have the information they need about the products they buy, that puts them back in charge, so they can make good decisions for their families.
When kids are consuming these products every day, those reductions in sugar, and salt and trans-fat can really add up. When healthier options are finally affordable, that can affect every single meal a child eats, whether it’s adding fruit at breakfast, or whole wheat bread at lunch, or some more veggies on the plate at dinner. And when 140 million people a week are shopping at Walmart, then day by day, and meal by meal, all these small changes can start to make a big difference for our children’s health.
So to say I’m excited is probably an understatement because we’re really gaining some momentum on this issue, we’re really starting to see things move. We are seeing a fundamental shift in our national conversation about how we make and sell food. That's something that wasn’t happening just a year ago. And all across the country, we’re beginning to see the ripple effects on the choices folks are making about how they feed their kids.
So today, I don’t just feel hopeful about what this one company is doing for our children’s health. I feel hopeful about what we as a nation can do. And even more importantly, I feel hopeful about what we as individuals -- what we as parents -– can do. That's the point.
You see, this Nutrition Charter, it didn’t start in Washington, as you’ve heard. It didn’t come from Congress or the White House. It came from parents. That's the beauty of it. It came from parents, from hardworking moms and dads who struggle every week to find healthy choices that fit their hectic lifestyles.
And let me tell you, like Andrea, I know what that’s like, because I’ve been there. Just a few short years ago, I was living a “normal” life, really -- (laughter) -- facing the daily challenges of a working mom -- dashing from meetings to the school pick-up line, struggling to keep it all together for my family, trying to act like I knew what I was doing. (Laughter.)
But I clearly remember that one of the things that made my life just a little more difficult was trying to figure out which foods were healthy and which ones weren't. I remember standing in aisle after aisle in the grocery store, searching high and low for the best options for my family, feeling so frustrated by how the healthy choice wasn't necessarily the affordable choice.
And that’s exactly how so many busy parents are feeling today. Look, they know the threat of obesity. They know it. They know the risk that it poses to their kids’ health. So you know what they did? They started speaking up. They started demanding healthier, more affordable options. And then you know what happened? Companies like Walmart started listening.
So this is important. When parents demand healthier choices and they actually put their money where their mouth is, then programs like this Nutrition Charter aren’t just good for kids and families; they’re good for business, as well, because what we've learned is that companies often tell us that they want to do the right thing for our kids, but they need the right business model to make that profitable. And when parents purchase healthier options when they can afford them, and demand lower prices when they can’t afford them, then we as parents make that model possible.
And let’s be clear. As Andrea said, when big companies like Walmart make changes like this, that doesn’t just affect the food sold in Walmart. It affects the products that suppliers make and sell in grocery stores all across this country. So parents haven’t just changed how Walmart does business; they’re actually changing how the entire food industry does business. And that's a good thing. (Applause.) That is a very, very good and powerful thing. (Applause.)
So today, I have one simple message for American parents: Make no mistake about it, when it comes to the health of our children, we have a voice, parents. We have a voice.
And in the end, that’s really what “Let’s Move” is all about. That's why we did this. It’s not about what’s happening here in Washington. It’s not about government telling people what to do. That's not what this is about. It’s about each of us, in our own families, in our own communities, standing up and demanding more for our kids. And it’s about companies like Walmart answering that call.
So in the coming months and years, I hope that more companies, large and small –- everyone can do their part -- will start stepping up. I hope that business leaders and others across this country will ask themselves, truly, “What can I do in my company or in my organization to help families make healthy decisions for their kids?”
And if we do that, if each of us do our part for our children, then I am confident that together, we can give these kids the brighter future that they so richly deserve.
So, again, congratulations to Walmart. Congratulations to parents. This is an exciting new initiative. And I look forward to seeing the difference that it’s going to make in the lives of families and children in the months and years ahead.
So thank you all so much. Take care. (Applause.)
10:09 A.M. EST