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Eat Healthy, Play Healthy

First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative focuses on "food deserts", communities that don't have adequate grocery stores

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

A salad and fruit vending machine could be one way to make better eating options available in a food desert, said one student at a recent Let's Move event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Let's Move is First Lady Michelle Obama's campaign to stop childhood obesity. Speaking at Fairhill School in North Philadelphia, Mrs. Obama noted several obstacles to eating healthy, including food deserts.

"These are places and communities that don't have a supermarket," Mrs. Obama explained. "This is true in the inner city and in rural communities. This is happening all across the country."

About 23.5 million people, including 6.5 million children, live more than a mile from a grocery store, estimates the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Families are forced to shop at convenience stores or gas stations, where the food available is highly processed and full of fat and sugar. For that reason, the U.S. government has made more than $400 million available in investment tax credits to help grocers open stores in those neighborhoods.

Eliminating food deserts is only one of four parts to the Let's Move program.
The first point is to inform families about how to eat healthier.

"We're working to provide better labeling for our food and encouraging our pediatricians to screen kids for obesity during well-child visits," Mrs. Obama said.

The Let's Move web site provides tips and step-by-step strategies on eating well and staying active, "so parents don't feel alone and isolated as they're trying to figure this out," Mrs. Obama said.
    
The second point of Let's Move! focuses on increased nutrition in school lunches.

"We need more healthy food like salad," said Fairhill School fifth-grader Mathew L. "And getting rid of the meat sauce, and adding fruit cups."
    
Being more active is the next point. The White House plans to expand the President's Physical Fitness Challenge and bring the 44-year-old program up to date.

"We've got to move," Mrs. Obama said.  "We've got to find ways for our kids to be more active, both in and out of school. That's why we're expanding and modernizing the President's Physical Fitness Challenge."
    
The kids at Fairhill School had some thoughts of their own on eating healthy. Sixth-grader Melanie C. suggested salad and fruit vending machines.

"Add carrots," said sixth-grader Destiny A.

The kids all seemed to agree with the First Lady's push to eat healthy and stay active.

"It [Let's Move!] is making the country and kids better," said Ian H., also in the sixth grade.

For more information on Let's Move, check out the program's website.

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  • Subjects:
    Cooking, Health and Safety, Disease and Illness, Exercise and Fitness
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The Scholastic Kids Press Corps was a team of about 50 Kid Reporters around the nation that brought news to life with reporting for kids, by kids.