Out of the Classroom and Into the Garden
Michelle Obama uses White House garden to teach kids about good eating habits
Many parents think that good nutrition is the key to keeping their kids healthy. President and Mrs. Obama are no exception. On June 16, First Lady Michelle Obama held a harvesting party in the First Lady’s Garden on the White House grounds in Washington, D.C. She used the opportunity to teach about the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. About 30 fifth and sixth graders were on hand to help.
“Too many kids are consuming high calorie foods with little or no nutritional value,” said Mrs. Obama at the event.
|Fifth- and sixth-graders from Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, D.C., harvest vegetables they planted earlier this year in the White House garden. The harvest event was June 16, 2009. Photo by Dara Sharif.|
The students were from Bancroft Elementary School in Northwest D.C. They were the same kids who helped plant the garden in March. They were invited back to help harvest, prepare, and eat the product of their hard work. Harvested vegetables included lettuce, peas, and the garden’s first cucumber.
The First Lady’s Garden is the first vegetable garden at the White House since First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt planted a victory garden during World War II. About 55 different varieties of vegetables were planted in the garden on the South Lawn.
Dressed in orange jeans and a bright orange and white sweater, Mrs. Obama thanked the students for helping with the garden. She then split them into groups to perform various tasks. About half of the kids picked produce with the First Lady, while the other half cleaned the vegetables with the help of associate White House chef, Sam Kass.
|Scholastic Kid Reporter Madison Hartke-Weber talks to White House assistant chef Sam Kass about cooking healthy at an event at the White House vegetable garden in Washington, D.C., on June 16, 2009. Photo courtesy White House.|
Like the First Family, Kass, who was the Obama’s personal chef in Chicago, believes that it is important for kids to develop good eating habits from an early age.
“Eat apples or other fruits that you don’t have to cook,” he told Scholastic Kids Press Corps when asked for the tips on how kids can incorporate fruits or vegetables into their everyday meals. “You can also eat a small salad with meals.”
After harvesting the plants, the students carried everything into the White House kitchen to cook. With help from White House chefs, they made baked chicken with rice and peas, salads with a honey dressing, and cupcakes decorated with blueberries and raspberries.
Some students worked in the kitchen along with the First Lady shelling and cooking peas. Everyone else worked outside making salads and dressing, or putting the fruit on cupcakes.
|Students from Bancroft Elementary learn about good nutrition and improved eating habits by working in the White House garden. On June 16, 2009, the fifth- and sixth-graders ate the vegetables they helped plant in March. Photo by Dara Sharif.|
Before the meal, Mrs. Obama talked to the students about the importance of good eating habits.
“As a nation, we need to make good food more accessible,” she said.
She pointed out that many people live in places with no grocery stores or farmers’ markets nearby. They are forced to buy groceries at convenience stores and gas stations. One-third of the nation’s children are overweight or obese, she said, and likely to have “a shorter life span than their parents.”
Many schools also need to improve the quality of school lunches and teach students about the importance of nutrition. Before sitting down to eat, she thanked the “terrific young people” in front of her, for helping to educate the nation about good eating habits.
In conclusion, she urged everyone to go home and become “little ambassadors,” taking their experiences from the First Lady’s Garden back into their own communities.
Madison Hartke-Weber is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.