Here's a quick glimpse at what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov:
First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts First-Ever Kids' State Dinner: On Monday, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the first-ever Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House, welcoming 54 budding chefs to a formal luncheon in the East Room as part of her Let’s Move! initiative. The guests, all between the ages of 8 and 12, represented all U.S. states, three territories and the District of Columbia.
Each of the guests, along with their parents, submitted a healthy recipe as part of Epicurious’ Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, which invited families to create an original lunchtime recipe that is healthy, affordable and delicious, and follows the nutritional guidelines of MyPlate.
“Believe it or not, more than 1,200 kids submitted recipes for this challenge -- 1,200. It's a big competition,” the First Lady said. A panel of judges from the organizations that teamed up with Mrs. Obama on this initiative -- Epicurious, the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture—tasted each of the recipes that made it to the final round of the competition and picked their favorites from each state, as Mrs. Obama explained.
To learn more about the Kids’ “State Dinner,” visit letsmove.obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/kids-state-dinner.
President Obama Held a Press Conference: Also on Monday, President Obama took questions from reporters and discussed a big new announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
"Today, HHS announced that thanks to the health care law that we passed, nearly 5.4 million seniors with Medicare have saved over $4.1 billion on prescription drugs. That’s an average savings of more than $700 per person," he said. "This year alone, 18 million seniors with Medicare have taken advantage of new preventive care benefits like a mammogram or other cancer screening at no extra cost."
After being asked about the prospects for more action from lawmakers to help create jobs and grow the economy, the President reiterated his call to help millions of responsible homeowners save hundreds of dollars each month.
"We're going to be pushing Congress to see if they can pass a refinancing bill that puts $3,000 into the pockets of the average family who hasn’t yet refinanced their mortgage. That's a big deal," the President told reporters. "That $3,000 can be used to strengthen the equity in that person's home, which would raise home values."
To learn more about the President's proposal, visit WhiteHouse.gov/refi.
Assisting Iranians in Need: On August 11, strong earthquakes in northwest Iran destroyed and damaged hundreds of villages, causing the loss of many lives, leaving thousands without electricity, water, health care and other essential services. The United States immediately sent the Iranian people our condolences and offered direct earthquake relief to the government of Iran. Despite our strong differences with the Iranian government, we have a deeply held obligation to help those in need in times of disaster. To learn more about the United States’ assistance to the Iranian people, please read Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough’s comments.
First Lady Announced a Major Milestone for Joining Forces: On Wednesday, at Naval Station Mayport near Jacksonville, Florida, First Lady Michelle Obama announced that 2,000 companies had hired or trained an amazing 125,000 veterans and military spouses in the past year through Joining Forces. This effort, combined with policies and legislation put in place by the President have resulted in a 20 percent decrease in veteran unemployment compared to this time last year. Read the First Lady’s full remarks.
International Traveler Spending On Pace For a Record Setting Year: Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Commerce released data showing that international visitors have spent an estimated $82.2 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services year to date, an increase of 11 percent when compared to the same period last year. The new data indicate that the first half of 2012 set a new record for U.S. travel and tourism exports, and, if these trends continue, international visitors could end up injecting close to $170 billion into the U.S. economy by year-end.
The Department of the Interior recently redesigned Recreation.gov to engage visitors with enhanced interactive web content and more multimedia, mobile, trip-planning tools. Check out the new Recreation.gov website to see the 90,000 federal sites, including national parks, wildlife refuges, waterways, and forests for you and your family to explore in the United States.
#InnovateGov: On Thursday, the inaugural class of Presidential Innovation Fellows, top innovators from all over the country who are working to create solutions that will boost government innovation for the American people, was welcomed by US Chief Technology Officer Todd Park. Learn about these projects at wh.gov/innovationfellows and read Todd Park's blog post.
Open-Sourcing We the People: Also on Thursday, the White House published the source code for We the People, the online petitions system for the public to connect with the White House.
When President Obama talked about We the People at the Open Government Partnership last year, he promised to, "share that technology so any government in the world can enable its citizens to do the same." Now anybody, from other countries to the smallest organizations to civic hackers can take this code and put to their own use. One of the most exciting prospects of open sourcing We the People is getting feedback, ideas and code contributions from the public.
If you're a Drupal developer and have an interest in using We the People or contributing to its development, check out the code and give us feedback. We'd also love to learn about how you're using the code for your own projects, contact us @WHWeb on Twitter or tweet Director of Digital Strategy Macon Phillips directly @macon44
First Lady Michelle Obama Visited Sikh Community in Wisconsin: Also on Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama visited with the Sikh American families affected by the tragedy on August 5 in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. She not only expressed her condolences but also underscored how strong those who died were, and how strong the Sikh community continues to be. The First Lady expressed her pride in the community, and looked into the eyes of the children in the room and said that she expects them to achieve ever greater things as well. The First Lady also greeted the family of Oak Creek Police Lt. Brian Murphy, who was shot and injured while defending the temple. Learn more about First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit to the Sikh Community.