The White House
Office of the First Lady
Remarks By The First Lady At “Let's Move” Healthier U.S. School Challenge Program Conference Call
Via conference call
3:02 P.M. EST
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you, Melody. Thank you so much for that kind introduction, but more importantly thank you for all of your outstanding work. We love you so much. You’re working so hard for this administration, for the East Wing, for the entire White House, for the country. She is amazing.
I also want to thank Secretary Duncan as well as Secretary Vilsack for their leadership and their passionate commitment to the health and well being of our young people. They have been tremendous partners to me on these efforts. We would not be where we are today without their leadership.
And I also want to thank Becke Bounds for joining us on the call today and for the difference that she’s making for so many young people down in Mississippi where we got a chance to visit a few months ago.
And finally, I want to thank all of you on this call –- education leaders from all across the country –- for everything that you’ve done to make this first year of “Let’s Move” such a tremendous success.
More than just about anyone else, all of you on this call know what’s at stake here. You know the impact that nutrition and exercise have on our kids’ academic performance. You know from firsthand experience that our kids need time to run around and play before they can settle down and concentrate. You know that they need something other than chips and candy before they can focus on math and reading.
And you know that the nutrition education that you provide in your schools is often the only guidance they get on making healthy decisions about what they eat.
The reality is that our schools are on the frontlines of our efforts to fight childhood obesity. And every day, with the decisions that you all make, you’re shaping our children’s habits and preferences, and affecting the choices they’ll make for the rest of their lives.
That’s why many of you have been leading by example. So many of you are revamping your schools’ physical education curricula. You’ve been raising standards for the food that you serve in your lunchrooms. You’re partnering with community groups that care about our kids. You’re expanding best practices throughout your school systems.
And I know that in these times that all this isn’t easy, especially given the budget challenges that many of us are -- that you all are facing, shrinking budgets and limited resources. And I know that right now a lot of school districts are struggling just to provide the basics.
And that's why one of our missions of "Let's Move" is to do everything that we can to give folks like all of you the support you need to do your jobs.
And that starts by helping more schools participate in the HealthierUS Schools Challenge. That’s one of the main reasons we wanted to host this call today, get you all together, because we want to highlight the tools. We want to highlight the technical assistance that's available to leaders like all of you who want to get your schools involved in this program.
As you all know, this challenge is a great way for schools to create healthier environments for kids. It sets concrete goals for more nutritious school food. It creates goals for regular physical activity and for sound nutrition education to help kids make better choices. Schools that complete this challenge can earn monetary rewards. Let me repeat that: Schools that complete this challenge can earn monetary rewards. And we’ll also be inviting representatives from every award-winning school to a very special reception at the White House.
And right now, we’re working to double the number of schools in the HealthierUS Schools Challenge. And with your help -- and we can’t do this without you -- I am hoping that we won’t just meet this goal, but that we will exceed it. That's right. We’re trying to exceed the goal of doubling the number of US Healthier Schools, because ultimately, we want every school in this country to be a HealthierUS School. We want every child in the country to have what they need to learn and to grow and to achieve their dreams. And that's why we work with the nation’s largest school food providers, and they’ve committed to providing better foods in the schools -- more fruits and vegetables and whole grains in their meals, and less sugar, fat and salt.
We’ve also started Chefs Move to Schools, where we’re bringing local chefs into schools to help create healthier menus and to support all of your nutrition education efforts. And through Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, that’s another effort where we’re helping to bring more fresh fruits and vegetables into those lunchrooms through salad bars.
We’re working to promote the President’s Active Lifestyle Award, which recognizes kids who exercise for 60 minutes a day, five days a week for six consecutive weeks. This is a great tool to challenge kids, to get them engaged, to get them moving. Kids always respond to an award. And you can also learn more about the President’s Lifestyle Award by going to presidentschallenge.org. Let me repeat that again. You can learn more about the President’s Active Lifestyle Award by going to presidentschallenge.org.
And finally, we’ve worked very hard -- we’re very proud that we worked with Congress to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. And we will continue to find other ways to support schools as this law is implemented. But we’re very excited that Congress has moved on this issue. It’s going to provide much needed help and support to the schools.
But as far as we’ve come, you all know we still have a long way to go. And that’s where all of you come in. We need more leaders like you to be involved in these programs. The truth is that you all are some of the most important decision-makers in our kids’ lives. And we need more of your ideas, quite frankly. We need your energy. We need your hard work. We need you to keep us focused and moving in the right direction, because we’re not going to stop working on this issue -- I know I’m not -- until we’ve solved this problem of childhood obesity once and for all. And this is something that we can do. This is an issue that we can solve working together. So we’re not going to stop until we know that our schools and our educators have everything they need to give our kids the healthy futures they deserve.
So I am looking forward to working with more of your schools. I’m hoping that through this call this will energize you all to go back into your district to work with the schools that you all have connections with and to get some of the focus on this technical support. We want to get these numbers up. We want to see all these schools joining us here in Washington to celebrate our increased numbers.
So I want to thank you all in advance for the work that you’re going to do. I want to thank you for the work that you’ve done to get us to this point. I visited so many schools around the country, and it is always a joy to see the light in children’s eyes when they’re eating right and they’re exercising. There is truly a difference in the energy in schools that are stepping up to this challenge. And it’s thanks to so many of you that we’re seeing more of these schools.
So, with that, I will stop and we will continue this conversation. But, again, thank you for all your efforts.
3:11 P.M. EST