The excitement from our day at the White House has not evaporated yet. All I have to do is think about all of us chefs congregated on the White House lawn, only steps from the presidential home and office, and I am reminded of the important work that is being done and still needs to be done to help change the way kids eat in this country. A few times a day since I returned last week, people have stopped me on the street or around town and asked about my trip to Washington. It is amazing how blogging can change life. It is great to have a vehicle to spread good info out into the world.
I was going to write up all the details of this trip, but Chef Tim Cipriano, the Executive Director of the New Haven Public School Food Program did such a thorough job on his blog, that it seems pointless to repeat it all. He did a great job documenting all the important people who were there and gave some great speeches on the Childhood Nutrition Act which is up for re-authorization this year, and on the basics of food in schools. Click HERE to read his post.
I was happily surprised on this trip to Washington at how much real talk there was about the seriousness of the obesity problem and the hunger problem in our country today. This was not an event just filled with fluff and just a lot of nice photo ops (although there were lots of those). The leaders of this movement understand the complexity and reality of this situation and that the solution to fixing our food system and how people eat, cook and think about food is a layered and complex one that needs fixes in policy, and action on the grassroots, face to face basis to make real change. That is the objective of the Chefs Move to Schools initiative. If you know any great chefs, or have a favorite restaurant, approach the chef and ask them to sign up to adopt a school with the new White House program.
Here are a few more pictures of the trip, from the chef breakfast and then the line to get through three security check points onto the white house lawn.
Left to right, starting at the top: Chef's Breakfast hosted by Share Our Strength, the breakfast table, Arnie Duncan(Secretary of Education) , Chef Sam Kass (White House), Chef Jorge (NYC Schools) Bill Telepan (Telepan Restaurant), April Neaujean (New Orleans Edible Schoolyard), Chef Anne Cooper (Berkeley Unified School District)
Waiting to get onto the white house lawn. Through three very friendly security check points.
A corner of the White House organic garden, started by Chef Sam Kass and Michelle Obama. Check out the rainwater collection barrel with water fountain spout (below)!!! So great!
A few famous chefs I snuck pictures of: Bee Smith, Lidia Bastianich, David Shea (Applewood Restaurant in Bklyn, he's famous in my book!) and then the rest of us chefs in whites....
Me and Tim in front of the white house, and then of course:
Our First Lady and White House Chef Sam Kass. It was wonderful to hear Michelle Obama talk about something she understands and cares about so deeply. It is really remarkable that she and president Obama have given Chef Kass the role they have to bring about some really leadership and hopefully changes to the food landscape in our country. This is a special moment in our history, I hope we do not squander it, but use it to bring about real change!