Michelle Obama: 'I'm Making a Vow -- I'm Going to Take a Break From French Fries'

July 21, 2014 - 10:12 AM

Michelle Obama

President Barack Obama joins first lady Michelle Obama, the host of the “Kids State Dinner”" in the East Room of the White House on Friday, July 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(CNSNews.com) - Malia Obama likes ice cream; her sister Sasha likes sushi and pie; President Obama likes chips and guacamole; and First Lady Michelle Obama likes French fries, but she's promised to give them up.

"I'm making a vow -- I'm going to take a break from French fries," Mrs. Obama told a "Kids' State Dinner" at the White House on Friday. She was speaking to the winners of the White House "Healthy Lunchtime Challenge."

"Really?" the president asked his wife after she promised to give up French fries.

"Yes,"  Mrs. Obama said.

"Wow, that's big," he joked.

In a May 28 op-ed in the New York Times, Mrs. Obama complained that the Republican-led House of Representatives was considering a bill to "override science by mandating that white potatoes be included on the list of foods" that welfare recipients could purchase. "Now there is nothing wrong with potatoes," she wrote. "The problem is that many women and children already consume enough potatoes and not enough of the nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables they need."

In her remarks to the children on Friday, Mrs. Obama did not dwell on potatoes. But she did note, "There's a lot of money involved in feeding our kids at school. We are currently spending $10 billion a year -- did you hear that, $10 billion a year -- on our school lunch programs. So it's not surprising that there are certain interests that are resisting change and trying to take us back to the old ways of doing business, because for them there's a lot of money is on the line.

"But you all have a right to expect that your hard-earned tax dollars will be spent on food that meets basic nutrition standards," she added.

Mrs. Obama urged the 54 "Healthy Lunchtime Challenge" winners to "serve as school lunch ambassadors."

"So here's what I'm going to ask you to do for this year. I need you guys to make your voices heard, too. It's important. And don't be shy. I want you to speak up, talk to your classmates and your teachers. Share with them what you've learned about healthy eating and cooking...Teach them what you know about healthy eating."

Mrs. Obama said if young children "can cook and happily eat a healthy, tasty meal, then there is absolutely no reason why we can't get nutritious food into every school in this country that kids will actually enjoy."

Sure, there will be resistance, she said: "Now, I know that some of you might have friends who want to bring back the junk food in the schools, right? Because there's always those kids. They're like, give me my junk food back.

"And I know that in recent months, we've even seen grownups, including folks in Congress, trying to undo some of the progress that we've made to get healthier food into our schools. And while the vast majority of the schools are doing just fine with these new standards, those few complaining voices happen to be the loudest voices and they're getting the most attention right now."

President Obama made a surprise appearance at the event championed by his wife, telling the children that guests at official White House state dinners are "older and a little stodgier."

"But this is a much hipper crowd. More colorful outfits -- so I like that," the president told the gathering. He praised the children for being "leaders in your schools and your communities" and for "helping to teach folks the importance of good nutrition."

Then he got personal: "And by the way, one thing -- maybe I shouldn't say this, but it's not like our family -- including me -- don't have some snacks once in a while -- that may not be on the perfect nutrition chart."

He then revealed that he, his wife and his children "have our weaknesses."

"It's true," Mrs. Obama confirmed.

"Malia, ice cream," the president said. "I mean, basically, it's very hard for her to turn down ice cream. But she has learned to kind of control herself when it comes to ice cream.

"It's hard," Mrs. Obama said.

It's hard, her husband agreed, "but she still has fun when she does have ice cream. In fact, the fact that she doesn't have ice cream every day means when she has it --

"It's very special," Mrs. Obama cut in.

"It's like, hallelujah," the president continued. "She is so happy. Sasha -- what would you say is Sasha's pig-out indulgence food?" he asked his wife.

"She likes sushi."

"Oh no," the president said.

"It's what she's into," Mrs. Obama insisted.

"She is kind of into sushi right now," Obama said. "She's a little -- I love sushi, so maybe I had some influence there. But let's say -- her pies. She pretty much takes dessert whenever she can.

"Pie," Mrs. Obama echoed.

"Pie," he repeated. "She's like me. My big thing -- chips and guacamole. (Laughter.) Basically, if there is a bowl of good chips and guacamole --

"He loses it," Mrs. Obama said.

"I lose my mind," the president agreed. "I lose my mind. And the first lady -- French fries."

"But I'm going to say this," the first lady interrupted -- making a "vow" to stop eating them.

President Obama told the children he was making the point that basic nutrition and developing healthy eating habits are the most important things, and if the basics are covered, then it's okay to have "fun food that may not be perfect for you."