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First Lady Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama

The Obama Administration will commit $35 million this year and propose another $330 million in the next budget to help provide healthy and affordable food to underserved communities, First Lady Michelle Obama announced yesterday during an event in the White House’s East Room.

The money will be used by the departments of Agriculture, Health & Human Services and Treasury to aid community development financial institutions, other nonprofits, public agencies and businesses develop sound strategies for addressing the healthy food needs of communities, Obama said.

“The commitments we’re announcing today have the potential to be a game-changer for kids and communities all across the country,” said Obama, who started the Let’s Move! Campaign to help children and parents combat childhood obesity.

The administration’s commitment is being joined by public sector partners like Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s and SuperValu, along with a number of regional and local grocers who each pledged to open numerous stores – with affordable health food options – or increase healthy food offerings in underserved areas across the country over the next five years.

“We know this isn’t going to be easy – nothing we do ever is,” Obama said. “We know that we can’t just throw money at this problem, especially not at this time.  And we know that it won’t be solved by government alone or by businesses alone or by communities alone. If we want to make a difference in this issue, we all are going to have to step up — all of us.  We all have to find a way to do our part.”

The announcement follows recent studies on the childhood obesity epidemic that says one out of every three children are overweight or obese. Several studies have shown communities with greater access to supermarkets consume more nutritious foods, including fruits and vegetables, but more than 6 million children live in homes below the poverty line.

“We can talk all we want about calorie counts and recipes and how to serve balanced meals,” Obama said, “but if parents can’t buy the food they need to prepare those meals, if their only options for groceries are in the corner gas station or the local minimart, then all that is just talk. It’s all just talk, and that is not what ‘Let’s Move’ is about. It’s about giving parents real choices.”

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