First Lady Michelle Obama visited the Garden State on Thursday, April 7th, 2016 where she joined students in Newark, NJ to promote healthy eating and living as a part of her “Let’s Move!” campaign. Mrs. Obama brought her “American Garden Tour,” where she’s highlighting the impact and benefits of diverse gardens across the country, to Philip’s Academy Charter School.
During her visit, Mrs. Obama met with students and toured the school’s EcoSpaces Education learning environments including its rooftop garden, AeroFarms Indoor Growing Lab and dining room. Additionally, Mrs. Obama sat down to talk with students and share a healthy meal “family style” of quinoa bars, mixed vegetables and a beet smoothie.
Also in attendance: NBC weatherman Al Roker.
Philip’s Academy uses its EcoSpaces Education Program to encourage students to make healthy food choices by connecting them to food, how it’s grown and how it nourishes their bodies. Related information such as nutrition facts, food groups and portion sizes, are posted along the walls of the school’s dining room.
“We made it our business to make sure we had a lunch program that is somewhat an anomaly in the world of school lunch,” said Frank Mentesana, Director of the Ecospaces Education Program. “We hear in the news that there are not so great school lunches. We’re trying to counter that. We’re trying to inspire people to change.”
Students who attended the event were not only thrilled to have met the First Lady but were left encouraged and inspired.
“I’m taking in new ways to prepare food, new ways to live and exercise and have fun and stay healthy,” said eighth grader Robbie Rivera.
Mrs. Obama’s visit comes after her husband, President Barack Obama visited the city last November to address criminal justice reform.
Prior to her arrival to Newark, Mrs. Obama joined students at the Burke County Middle School in Georgia.
For the final time as First Lady, Mrs. Obama planted the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn, on Tuesday, April 5th. She was joined by students from Wisconsin, Colorado & Louisiana as well as NASA representatives. Mrs. Obama first planted the garden in 2009.
The planting of the White House Kitchen Garden marked the first major vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden in 1943.
In 2012, Mrs. Obama authored a book on gardens entitled “American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America.”
Since its inception in 2010, “Let’s Move!” has aimed to help kids and families lead healthier lives. Over the years, the campaign has provided information resources to parents, brought healthier foods in schools as well as easier access to healthy, affordable foods and initiated more physical activity amongst kids.
More information on “Let’s Move!” is available at letsmove.gov.