Michelle Obama Wants to Create 'Let’s Move! Towns and Cities'

By Elizabeth Harrington | November 6, 2012 | 6:54pm EST

First lady Michelle Obama. (AP Photo/Reno Gazette-Journal, Andy Barron)

– First Lady Michelle Obama is encouraging local governments across America to become “Let’s Move!” cities and towns because local leaders are “uniquely positioned to champion healthy communities.”

First launched in 2010 but expanded this July, the initiative allows elected officials to sign up their locality as a “Let’s Move! City,” a “Let’s Move! Town” or a “Let's Move! County” and thus commit to various healthy eating goals.

The goals for the initiative include “prominently displaying” MyPlate posters in all “municipally or county-owned or operated venues where food is served,” and a commitment to increase participation in the School Breakfast Program.

“To provide children with a healthier start,” states Goal I (“Start Early, Start Smart”), “local elected officials commit to helping early care and education program providers incorporate best practices for nutrition, physical activity and screen time into their programs.”

(Image from USDA/HHS)

Local mayors must also commit to “implementing healthy and sustainable food service guidelines” in all government buildings that serve food and to “map” and publicize where local play spaces are located to encourage physical activity.

The program awards gold, silver, and bronze medals to towns that achieve the five goals.

“We still have a long way to go to solve this problem,” said Mrs. Obama, announcing the project’s expansion on July 18. “But if leaders like these keep coming to the table and we all keep working together, then I am confident that we can give all our children the happy, healthy futures they so richly deserve.”

The “Let’s Move! Cities and Towns” initiative is a partnership of the National League of Cities, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a nonprofit group that builds playgrounds to promote Mrs. Obama’s healthy eating agenda.

“The First Lady has always said that local leaders are uniquely positioned to champion healthy communities, which is why she called on mayors and other local elected officials to take a leadership role in June 2010 when she launched Let’s Move! Cities and Towns,” according to the July 18 news release announcing the expansion.

The campaign reports that hundreds of local officials have signed up to become a “Let’s Move” city or town, including the nation’s capital Mayor Vincent Gray. Other cities include: Newark, N.J.; Orlando, Fla.; San Antonio, Texas; Sacramento, Calif.; and Los Angeles, Calif.

“Ultimately, it’s going to take all of us – businesses and non-profits; community centers and health centers; teachers and faith leaders; coaches and parents; and particularly all of you, our nation’s mayors – all working together to help families make commonsense changes so our kids can get, and stay, healthy,” the First Lady said in an address to the Conference of Mayors in 2010.

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