Remarks by the First Lady at Let's Move Food Access Event
Northgate Gonzalez Market Site
9:19 A.M. PST
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you. Good morning, Inglewood, yes! (Applause.) It’s good to say that, right? It’s good to be here. You all rest yourselves.
I am more than thrilled to be here with all of you today. And thank you for having me, because I know having me in your neighborhood is a little disruptive. (Laughter.) So thank you for putting up with it.
I want to start by thanking Mayor Butts and Mayor Villaraigosa for their terrific work serving the people of L.A., and for their leadership and for their friendship and support. I am so glad that they took the time out of their busy schedules to be here today.
I also have to recognize and thank Dr. Ross and the California Endowment for their outstanding leadership in building healthy communities and bringing fresh food to areas in need all across this state. It’s been just truly a privilege and a joy to work with the endowment and to work with Dr. Ross. He’s a smart guy. He’s a funny guy. And he does what he says he’s going to do. And that’s always refreshing. Yes, indeed. (Laughter.) They’ve really set the standard on this issue, and we’re just grateful for everything that they’ve done.
And finally, I want to thank Oscar for that kind introduction, but more importantly for what he and his family are doing here in this community and across the state of California. The story is so inspiring on so many different levels. But the story of Northgate and the new Northgate Gonzales Market that is being built here is the story that we want to tell in cities and towns across America. This is the story. This is what it’s all about. It’s a story about bringing fresh, healthy, affordable food into communities that need it most. It’s a story about creating jobs, about revitalizing neighborhoods. And it’s a story -- the story, like the Northgate story -- that don’t just sell healthy food, but they also promote healthy lifestyles by helping their customers make the decisions that are right for their families.
And that’s more than just owning a store. That’s being a responsible member of the community. That’s like being family. And that’s what you would hope for the institutions that come into our community. Again, this is the story that we want to tell, and that’s why I’m here, and that’s why I’m glad so much of the country and the world will hear this story.
And that’s also why, last spring, as part of Let’s Move, we brought together nonprofit organizations and grocery stores large and small. That was just a year ago that we pulled these folks together, and now we’re celebrating the second anniversary of Let’s Move in just a couple of weeks. And when we brought these people together, we asked them one simple question. We said, “What can we do together to get fresh food into every community in our country?” Not just some of them, but every community. What can we do if we put all our resources and energy to this task? And within a couple of months -- it didn’t take that long -- we had our answer.
Companies ranging from small local grocers to major national chains agreed to build or expand 1,500 stores in underserved areas in our country.
And the Fresh Works Fund -- which is, again, a coalition of companies and nonprofits including the California Endowment, but so many others -- they agreed to dedicate $200 million to support these efforts.
And this all is on top of what the Healthy Food Financing Initiative that the Obama administration started back in 2010. So there’s been a lot of coming together around this issue.
And with support from these programs, soon, this warehouse we sit in -- I mean, they dressed it up really nicely, it’s pretty impressive -- but this will be home to a brand new, fully stocked grocery store. And thousands -- thousands of families will be able to buy fresh fruit right in their own community.
And it sounds like a very simple thing, but there are too many communities that don’t have this kind of privilege. And I’m here today because I believe that every family in our country should have access to healthy food, because we can’t solve this problem if they don’t. You can’t look a parent in the face and tell them to feed their child better or healthier if they don’t have access to those resources. It’s not fair. If a parent wants to pack a piece of fruit in their child’s lunch, if they want to pick up a head of lettuce to make a salad, they shouldn’t have to get on a bus and go for hours into another community to make that happen. They shouldn’t have to pay for an expensive taxicab ride to get to another neighborhood just to make that simple act happen, something that so many Americans take for granted.
Instead, they should have a retailer, like Northgate, right in their own community. Again, it sounds so simple -- a place that sells healthy food at reasonable prices so that they can feed their families in the same way that so many people can and the way that they want to.
That’s how we solve this problem, one community, one household at a time, because when families have access to fresh food, that means that kids can get better nutrition. It’s as simple as that. And when kids have better nutrition, they grow up to be healthier. Simple as that. And when healthy kids become healthy adults, they’re less likely to suffer from conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer -- conditions that cost our economy billions of dollars every year. All preventable. All preventable. And when those kids take those healthy eating habits that they learned at childhood and we think about what they do with that knowledge, that can affect not just what they eat today but what they feed their own children years from now.
So let’s not be mistaken at any level. When we bring healthy food into our communities, we’re not just making this generation of kids healthier, but we’re working on the next and the next and the next. We don’t want our kids to struggle in the ways that we do. And they won’t if they have the information and if we as parents and communities, we have the information and we’re passing that on.
So I am so proud of what we’re all doing together. This is that simple thing. You take what appears to be a tough problem and you bring a little hope to it. And then you bring people together and you come up with smart, common-sense solutions, and then you do the hard work. And people respond. And lo and behold, it benefits our children. And that’s all that we want to do. In the end, we are doing this for our children.
So this work is inspiring. And I want to be traveling around the country and going to projects like these all over the country, just shining the light on what we can do together when we are focused on what matters most: our children.
So I want to congratulate all of you, all of the employees. You guys are making this happen. Do not underestimate the power of the service that you provide, creating a home in so many ways for your neighbors and your families and your friends. We are so incredibly proud of all of you. And I look forward to working with you in the months and the years ahead.
Thank you so much. Congratulations. (Applause.)
9:28 A.M. PST