I don’t like Tiger Beat on the Potomac, but once in a blue moon, they actually do some reporting.
This story is about the origins of Let’s Move.
Our FLOTUS was always serious.
Our FLOTUS was never playing with you.
Reading this just made me love our FLOTUS even more.
The great FLOTUS food fight
For the first time, the inside story of how Michelle Obama changed American nutrition.
By Helena Bottemiller Evich and Darren Samuelsohn
03/17/16 04:56 AM EDT
Miriam Nelson got the call while she was rock climbing in Canada: It was the White House assistant chef, of all people, summoning her to a closed-door meeting with the new first lady of the United States. It was 2009, Nelson was one of the nation’s top experts on nutrition and exercise, a Tufts University professor at the time, and she wasn’t the only one: a half-dozen more got the same surprise invitation.
The Obamas had been in the White House for six months, and Michelle had begun to signal that she might use her bully pulpit to encourage healthy eating. She had already filmed some typical first lady TV spots on Oprah and Sesame Street. But what Nelson found when she arrived at the White House didn’t look like a team built for feel-good PR. It was stacked with Washington power: the first lady’s staff from the East Wing, the president’s people from the West Wing, and top officials from the Centers for Disease Control and the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. Obama’s Domestic Policy Council Director, Melody Barnes, was there; so was the first lady’s top policy adviser, Jocelyn Frye. Presiding over the meeting was Michelle Obama herself, in a trademark sleeveless dress, and holding a notebook.
With Democrats holding control of Congress, Nelson and the others realized, the East Wing was formulating a big policy push that would use all available levers of the federal government to improve how Americans eat. They wanted a new law to make school lunches healthier; they saw ways to deploy federal stimulus dollars on new cooking equipment in public school cafeterias and to use government financing to get grocery stores into poor communities where fresh food wasn’t readily available. They wanted to overhaul the federal nutrition label so it confronted shoppers more directly with calorie counts. Even the more symbolic side of American food policy was coming under the microscope: A reboot of the decades-old “food pyramid” that told families how to balance a meal.
“You really got the sense that this is something that she was likely to take on,” recalled Nelson, who was asked for advice on nutrition and exercise programs that worked. “It was very exciting.”
In the six-plus years since that meeting, Michelle Obama’s sophisticated and strategic campaign has transformed the American food landscape in ways considerably deeper than the public appreciates, even now. While the average American might have been watching Michelle’s push-up competition against Ellen DeGeneres or her “mom dancing” with Jimmy Fallon, or even her ‘Turnip for what’ viral Vine, the first lady and her team were notching a remarkable series of changes in American nutrition policy. Crafting their approach with an eye to the successes and failures of initiatives launched by previous first ladies, and acutely aware of the risk of nanny-state blowback, Obama and her staff shrewdly calibrated her role as the campaign’s public face and, at times, its behind-the-scenes lobbyist.
Read the entire story at the link.