Nearly 1,000 Chefs Answer First Lady ‘s Call to Adopt Local Schools

The White House Garden, June 4, 2010

The White House Garden, June 4, 2010

History was made Friday in Washington, DC as hundreds of chefs from more than 37 states descended on the South Lawn of the White House in hopes of accomplishing one thing — bringing an end to childhood obesity. Each of these gastronomical experts answered the call of First Lady Michelle Obama to adopt a school in their community and share their knowledge and passion for food. The Chefs Move to Schools program, a project of the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign, was conceived by White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass, the man behind the White House garden. So far, Kass says almost 1,000 chefs have signed up to be a part of the ambitious initiative.

Perhaps one of the most famous volunteers to take part in the event was celebrity-chef Rachel Ray. Ray has long championed the fight against childhood obesity. In 2006, she launched her own non-profit organization, Yum-O!, designed to “empower kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking.” Not afraid to get her hands dirty, Ray joined the First Lady, fellow chefs and students from a nearby elementary school in harvesting veggies from the White House garden. Graciously, Ray took a few moments to answer a few questions from me.

Coming up soon, complete coverage of the Chefs Move to Schools program and more inspiring words from the First Lady, Sam Kass and several other trailblazing chefs from Maryland to Haiti

10 in 10: Ensure Every American Child Has Access to Healthy and Affordable Food: A “Gentle” Wish For a New Decade

10in101A new decade brings new opportunities and challenges. The interaction between diet and health received significant attention during “The Aughts.” What will we do during this next decade to respond to the call for action for a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle? This is the fourth in a continuing series highlighting 10 ways you can help this year.


Knowing that the obesity epidemic in the United States has some scientists predicting that for the first time in history American children will live shorter lives than their parents, my wish for the next decade is to see First Lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama and his administration succeed in their mission to ensure that every American child has access to healthy and affordable food. A recent gathering of Obama Administration officials invited to discuss their efforts to improve America’s food system left me hopeful that my wish will come true.

Courtesy: White House Blog

Courtesy: White House Blog

Last month in D.C. Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Dora Hughes, Counselor to the Secretary of Health, and Sam Kass, White House assistant chef and Food Initiative Coordinator for the First Lady each shared their goals for the next year during an event for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Food and Community Program. Surprisingly it wasn’t their words that left me so inspired; rather it was the words of 10-year-old David Martinez-Ruiz. Kass shared with the audience a letter that the D.C. elementary school student had presented to the First Lady following his class visit to the White House Garden.

One of the things that I want to say about being at the White House was how gentle the feeling was. It felt surprisingly natural to be there. We planted on a warm day. The sun was out and there was a little breeze. The grass was beautiful and green. The people made us feel good. I liked the way the staff person who helped me was very gentle with the worms we found. I think about the garden as being gentle: gentle with nature, gentle to your body, and gentle with each other. Read More >