Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chefs Move to Schools, but first to White House

On June 4, 700 chefs from over 37 states gathered on the South Lawn of the White House in support of the "Chefs Move to Schools" initiatiave, a part of the First Lady's Let's Move campaign to end the epidemic of childhood obesity.  Sixty IACP members were among them.

The day began with breakfast across the street from the White House at the J. W. Marriott hotel, sponsored by Share Our Strength.  A lineup of speakers explained the program concepts.
Chefs were asked to adopt a school, to nurture it in a variety of ways, with the goal of producing healthier school food and healthier young people. Many of the suggested activities listed in the breakfast printed program would involve a significant donation of time, funds and energy.

Following breakfast, IACP members joined the other chefs for a tour of Mrs. Obama’s kitchen garden. Non-vegetable gardeners were surprised to see fennel, broccoli and Swiss chard all ready to harvest in early June in Washington, D.C. (The arugula, however, looked too pockmarked by insects to serve to any but the most convinced organic foodies.)

Part of the fun was standing next to well-known, respected television cooking teachers and sometimes engaging them in conversation.

It was exciting!

And the photos, with the White House as a backdrop, what could be better?

Read the transcript of Mrs. Obama’s remarks or watch her speak.

Once home again, food bloggers posted a flurry of reports, many on the topic, “Me at the White House.”

Now the challenge for IACP members and their fellow supporters of Chefs Move to Schools is to keep their commitment and to help realize the worthy goals of the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign against childhood overweight and obesity.

Already IACP’s Kids in the Kitchen section has enlisted the support of several of the breakfast speakers, to participate in IACP teleforums in the months ahead and to discuss with IACP members the practical application of how to adopt a school. Included will be Janet Poppendieck, author of Free for All: Fixing School Food in America; innovative school volunteer Chef Bill Telepan of the eponymously named New York City restaurant; and Ellen Teller, lobbyist for the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill.
In addition, incoming IACP Kids in the Kitchen Co-Chair Michelle Stern has established a free listserv for the purpose of continuing the conversation about the Chefs Move to Schools movement. A listserv archives messages but also stores related files, links, photos, and polls. To sign up, IACP members may contact IACPchefsmovetoschools@yahoo.com.