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The White House
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release

First Lady Michelle Obama Delivers Call to Action for Improved Childhood Nutrition and Physical Fitness

Mrs. Obama outlines goals and pledges to participate in President’s Active Lifestyle Award

(Slidell, Louisiana) – As children across the country begin a new school year, First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the next phase of  Let’s Move! – her initiative to solve the problem of childhood obesity in a generation – focusing today on improving children’s nutrition and physical fitness.  Her remarks highlighted strategies to help schools provide healthier foods in school lunchrooms and vending machines, and engage students in a regular routine of physical exercise.  In particular, she described improvements to the Healthier US Schools Challenge – a program that requires schools to meet higher standards for school foods, nutrition information, and physical education – to encourage more schools to participate.

With Congress returning to session next week, the First Lady dedicated a portion of her speech to the importance of passing the Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization Bill. “Without the funding this legislation provides, millions of children won’t get the basic nourishment they need to be healthy, and that is simply unacceptable in the United States of America,” said Mrs. Obama. “This is a bi-partisan bill – it’s supported by Democrats and Republicans who have come together on behalf of our children.  It has already passed the Senate, and I hope that the House of Representatives will act as swiftly as possible so that we can get it signed into law.”

Key highlights of benchmarks and actions to be taken include:

Improving child nutrition through HealthierUS Schools Challenge

  • Increasing school participation:
    • Doubling the number of schools that participate in the HealthierUS Schools Challenge by June of 2011. An additional one thousand schools will be added in each of the following two years. 
    • Increasing participation in the school lunch program by two million eligible children, and getting another 3 million kids signed up to start receiving school breakfasts by 2015.
  • Application assistance:
    • Moving the application process online starting October 1st to make it easier to complete.
    • Helping school districts get involved by creating a onetime application for the entire district.  This will make it easier for districts to bring all school up to the HealthierUS School Challenge standards.  
    • Providing better technical assistance through experts’ in-person support to guide school administrators through the application process.
  • Reward:
    • Giving monetary awards from the USDA to participating schools for each completed level of the challenge, those funds will be used to fund health initiatives.
    • Saluting schools joining the program, the First Lady will send a congratulatory letter and will host an event at the White House.

Chefs Move to Schools

  • New Resources:
    • Crafting a new on-line tool for chefs with expert advice on how to work with schools and provide support.

Engaging youth in regular physical exercise routine

  • President’s Active Lifestyle Award:
    • Doubling the number of children who earn the President’s Active Lifestyle Award.  To earn this award, students need to engage in physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day, five days a week, for six weeks. 
    • Pledging to participate, the First Lady will record her progress online.
  • Other benchmark priorities
  • Supporting efforts to ensure doctors screen for obesity and counsel parents on strategies for keeping children at a healthy weight.
  • Supporting initiatives to increase access to affordable, quality food, particularly in underserved communities, and eliminate food deserts.
  • Supporting ongoing efforts to provide clear labeling on food packaging.