Michelle Obama photo

Remarks by the First Lady at a "Top Chef" School Event in Dallas, Texas

February 10, 2012

MRS. OBAMA: Wow! Wasn't that fun?

AUDIENCE: Yes! (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA: I think the point in our decision is that when you've got great chefs paired with kids that are enthusiastic, and you've got schools that care, everybody is a winner. I think every single one of those meals would be something that school kids would love, they would get the kind of nourishment they needed. And we sent the signal that good food doesn't have to cost a ton of money.

So we're just excited that "Top Chef" hosted this competition. All our teams, all our schools were amazing. We're so proud of you.

I have to start by thanking Tom and everyone from "Top Chef" for putting together such a great competition. Let's give them a round of applause. Tom, thank you. (Applause.)

And of course, we have to thank all our hype men from the Dallas Cowboys, right? (Applause.) DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, Felix Jones, and DeMarco Murray -- you all were fabulous. Hope you all learned a little something here. (Applause.)

I also want to recognize Dora Rivas. She's the Director of Food and Child Nutrition Services for the Dallas Schools. She's just been amazing. (Applause.) And I want to thank everyone from the Kleberg/Rylie Recreation Center for hosting us here today. This is very nice. (Applause.)

And finally, I want to say thank you to all of you guys -- our students, our teachers, the staff. Thank you for being here with us as we celebrate the second anniversary of "Let's Move."

Now, this is the third state -- the third state -- that we've visited in just a little over a day, so we've been busy. We've been to Iowa. We've been to Arkansas. And right after we leave here, we're going to be in Florida. And we're doing this because we want to see what folks across this country are doing to eat healthy and to get active. And there are wonderful stories all over this country, including right here.

And that's one of the reasons why I'm here in Dallas today, because I've heard that you all are doing some terrific work through the HealthierUS Schools Challenge. You all have been doing some amazing things.

As everybody here knows, this challenge is run by the Department of Agriculture, or the USDA as we call it. And it recognizes schools that meet the highest national standards for nutrition and physical activity -- the highest standards. These schools are the schools that are finding creative, innovative ways to serve healthy meals and to get kids active. So it's a twofer -- it's not just nutrition, but it's also physical activity. And these high-ranking schools are doing it at a time when budgets are tight -- and we all know that budgets are tight -- and there aren't a whole lot of resources to go around, again, which is why this competition is important, because schools are being asked to do so much more with less.

But right here in Dallas, more than 150 schools have been recognized in this challenge. That includes 78 schools that have earned Gold Awards, which go to schools that meet the highest levels of standards. And that's more than any other school district in the entire country. Did you hear that? (Applause.) Dallas, you have more Gold schools in this district than anywhere in the country. And that includes schools like Nancy Moseley Elementary School! (Applause.)

So that's why we're here, because you all are really leading the way for schools. And we want schools across the country to start following your lead. See, when we first launched "Let's Move" just two years ago, we set a goal of doubling the number of HealthierUS Schools by June of 2011, which was last year. And then we had a goal of adding 1,000 more schools, new schools each year. And now -- when we set this goal, there were just 625 HealthierUS Schools around the entire country. By June of last year, 2011, we had more than doubled that number -- more than doubled that number in a very short period of time. And as far as reaching our goal of 1,000 new schools by this year, well, today, thanks to the hard work and support of the USDA staff all across this country, I'm proud to announce that 1,589 schools have already earned awards in the challenge this school year. (Applause.) Good stuff, good stuff.

Now, that brings the total number of schools to 2,862. That's up from just about 600 -- very good stuff.

And we're trying to help even more schools win this challenge with a fun program that we call "Chefs Move to School." And that's another reason why we're here at "Top Chef," because chefs have been a key to helping so many schools reach their goals. This program brings local chefs into our schools to help prepare healthier food -- just like we did here today -- and to teach our children about healthy eating. And so far, we've had more than 3,400 local chefs sign up to volunteer throughout the country. The chefs have been amazing. We did a kickoff event at the South Lawn, and how many chefs -- we had over -- we had six, 700 chefs in their white coats on the South Lawn, and it was powerful because our chefs know the value of food in the life of our families, our communities and our children, and they're stepping up. And right here in Dallas, chefs from this program have done healthy cooking demonstrations, they've helped develop new recipes for schools, for the meals -- just like we did here today -- and they've done new training for kitchen staffs around the city.

So they're taking time out of their personal lives to come in and train some of our staff and our teachers. It's just been wonderful. And I'm pleased today to announce that we're taking this program, the chefs program, to the next level. We're working with groups from around the country to launch a new website that we're calling ChefsMoveToSchools.org. This website will make it easier for chefs to connect with schools and to share ideas with one another. Because it's not the interest -- some chef -- there are so many chefs that want to get involved, they just need to know how to link up with the school and how to work with them. This website is going to do just that.

So I'm counting on chefs and schools across the country to go to the site if they're interested, and we hope everyone is; we want them to sign up, and we want them to start cooking and working together. And I want to thank the School Nutrition Association, the American Culinary Federation, Share Our Strength, and there were so many other groups who have stepped up to make this program a big success. Again, "Let's Move" is only possible with partners -- people coming together, all for you guys, all to make you healthier.

So we have come a very long way in our first two years of "Let's Move." And we couldn't have done it without students, teachers and -- like the folks here in Dallas. And our athletes as well, they have been stepping up. Athletes -- when they're asked, they are ready to be here with you guys. They are some of the best role models you can have, and we're so proud that so many of them -- particularly the NFL has been finding ways to get you guys to move and understand the importance of nutrition.

So I want to thank everyone for everything that you've done. And to the students, what did I say to each of you? It's important to eat right, it's important to get your exercise, but it's more important to be a good student -- that all of these things add up. It is very hard to focus at school if you don't have good fuel in your body. And that is the truth. This isn't just a grownup telling you to eat your vegetables. The truth is, is that your brain works better on good food. And we need you guys to be at your very best, because you're going to be the ones that are going to be the next leaders for our country, right? We want you to be the next principals, and NFL stars; we want you to be the next presidents of the United States, right?

So we need you guys to be healthy and take this seriously, and you need to pass this on to your kids, right? When you grow up, right? You've got to teach your kids how to eat right. So can we count on you to do that?


MRS. OBAMA: I am so proud of you all. You all have been terrific. Thank you, guys, and have fun, all right? (Applause.)

Michelle Obama, Remarks by the First Lady at a "Top Chef" School Event in Dallas, Texas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/320347

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