May 3, 2013
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you for supporting our farmers and our ranchers and working tirelessly to market their products across the globe – which, by the way, helps to create jobs right here at home. Thank you for protecting our environment, promoting renewable energy sources that will power our country for generations to come. So that’s an impact on not just us, but our children and our grandchildren and their children. Thank you for that work. Thank you for lifting up rural communities. And thank you for keeping our food safe. And I think this is something most of the country doesn’t realize – the work that you do here to protect the environment, you keep our food safe, working to end hunger, improve nutrition for families across this country.
And the nutrition issue, as Tom mentioned, as you all know, is something near and dear to my heart not just as First Lady, but as a mother. In fact, one of the first things that I did, as you know, as First Lady, was to plant the garden at the White House. And it’s really pretty. (Laughter.) I hope you guys get a chance – it’s beautiful now. It rained a couple of days. Thank you. (Laughter.) And the idea with planting the garden wasn’t just to encourage kids to eat more vegetables. I also wanted to teach them about where their food comes from.
I think you’ve known this – we see this as we traveled around the country – some kids have never seen what a real tomato looks like off the vine. They don’t know where a cucumber comes from. And that really affects the way they view food. So a garden helps them really get their hands dirty, literally, and understand the whole process of where their food comes from. And I wanted them to see just how challenging and rewarding it is to grow your own food, so that they would better understand what our farmers are doing every single day across this country and have an appreciation for that work, that tradition – that American tradition of growing our own food and feeding ourselves.
And the garden helped spark a conversation in this country about healthy eating that led us to create Let’s Move. As you know, it’s a nationwide initiative to end childhood obesity in this country in a generation, so that all of our kids can grow up healthy. And all of you all at USDA, let me just tell you, have been such a critical part of this effort right from the very start. This would not happen – all the conversation, all the movement around health, that’s all because of so many of you right here in this room and throughout this building, and in agencies and facilities all over this country. You helped to launch our new MyPlate icon, which is changing the way families serve their meals and gives them a really easy way to understand what a healthy plate looks like.
You worked, as Tom said, to help pass historic childhood nutrition legislation and so much more. But that legislation that Tom mentioned that you all worked so hard on, The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, I believe that that legislation is truly one of the greatest legacies that we can leave our children. Because of this Act, as Tom mentioned, 32 million American children are getting more of the nutrition they need to learn and grow and be successful. And I do hope that it’s delicious. We’re working on that, yes indeed. (Laughter.) And you all are playing a big role in that. And, more importantly, kids are playing a big role in making sure that their food is nutritious. And I think that’s part of the chain of progress – they grow the food, they’re involved in preparation, they’re involved in how it tastes. That means they’re going to eat it.
And none of this would have been possible without you all here at the USDA who worked tirelessly to pass this legislation and are working tirelessly to implement it all across the country. So the bottom line is that with the work that you do at USDA – work that affects the vitality of our communities, the food we feed our children, the air, the land, the water we’re passing on to our children – you all touch just about every single American in this country with the work that you do.
“Remarks by the First Lady at a Visit to thank USDA Employees ….” 3 May. 2013, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/05/03/remarks-first-lady-visit-thank-usda-employees. Accessed 7 Feb. 2017.