Mrs. Obama’s Back to School Message: ‘Exciting Changes’ in Cafeteria

By Elizabeth Harrington | September 10, 2012 | 6:24pm EDT

First lady Michelle Obama. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

( – First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a back to school message for children to inform them of the “exciting changes” to their lunchrooms this year, thanks to federally mandated healthy food choices now in effect.

In a video message taped outside the White House, which was featured on the Let's Move! blog last week, Mrs. Obama welcomed kids back to another year of “learning, discovery, hard work and fun.”

“And today I want to tell you about some exciting changes that you’ll be seeing in your school cafeterias,” she said.  “Starting this year, the talented people who cook the food at your school will be offering all kinds of healthy, delicious new choices.  Foods that are good for you and that taste good, too.”

“These healthy foods are good for your body, they’ll give you energy and make you stronger and they’re also good for your mind,” Mrs. Obama said.

“Studies show that when you eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables that can actually help you pay attention in class and do a better job on your homework and tests.”

“And that’s really what this is all about,” she said.

Mrs. Obama also noted that both she and the president “believe” in the potential of our nation’s school children.

“It’s about ensuring that all of you have everything you need to learn and grow and succeed in school and in life because you all are the future of this country,” she said of the healthy food choices.  “And I want you to know that I believe in you.  Your president, President Obama believes in you, too.”

“And we want you to be able to fulfill every last bit of your potential and pursue every last one of your dreams,” Mrs. Obama said.  “So I hope that you all enjoy the healthy new choices in your school lunchroom, and I hope you have a healthy and productive school year.”

The addition of healthy selections is courtesy of the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act,” which was signed into law on Dec. 13, 2010.  The act subsidizes and regulates what children eat before school, at lunch, after school, and during summer vacations in federally funded school-based feeding programs.

It also, for the first time, gives the federal government the authority to regulate the food sold at local schools, including in vending machines.

During the signing ceremony for the law, Mrs. Obama said the federal government has a responsibility for what children eat at school.  “When our kids spend so much of their time each day in school, and when many children get up to half their daily calories from school meals, it’s clear that we as a nation have a responsibility to meet as well,” she said.

“We can’t just leave it up to the parents,” Mrs. Obama said.

“The school day just got healthier!” the Let’s Move! blog post explains.  “This year, the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act will be implemented in schools across the country to improve the meals that 32 million children eat each day.

The blog details that the healthy choices will include “More whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; low-fat milk dairy products; and less sodium and fat.”

The new school breakfast and lunch meal standards will also include portion sizes, “the right portion” depending on the grade.  Under the law, schools can be reimbursed an additional 6 cents for each lunch they serve “in accordance with the new standards,” according to the posting.

“When we give kids plenty of healthy food choices and regular physical activity at school, they learn healthier habits for life,” the article said.

The first lady is also giving more tips for parents, including, “Parents can play a role in helping kids adjust to new foods, learning where food comes from, and building a healthy plate at home.”

The blog also advises to cook at home to “add healthy food to our diet at the personal level,” eat meals together, plant a garden, and, “Grocery shop with your children and let them make healthy choices with you down the grocery aisles.”

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