Monday, June 7, 2010
School Meals Super Chef Timothy Cipriano @ the White House
On Friday June 4th, I had the honor of being an invited guest to the White House to help roll out Chefs Move to Schools, the newest program developed as part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign. Joining me for this wonderful adventure were 30 of my collegues from CT including Tagan Engel (pictured with me). Share Our Strength, the nation’s leading organization to ensure that no kid grows up hungry, was tasked to recruit and engage several hundred chefs from across the country to lend support to this new program that will surely change the life of children for years to come.
The day started, like most days do by consuming a healthy breakfast, this breakfast however was a bit different. Paired nicely with the meal was a breakfast symposium organized by Share Our Strength; Healthy Schools, Healthy Kids: How Chefs Can Make a Difference.
• Chef April Neujean, former volunteer and current Food and Nutrition Services Coordinator for the Edible Schoolyard New Orleans at Samuel J. Green Charter School.
The panelists described their experiences working together; the good, the bad, but not too much of the ugly. There were quite a few laughs by the audience; this was certainly a relaxing and informative panel session.
Next came, Ellen Teller, Director of Government Affairs at the Food Research and Action Center, who enlightened the crowd to the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act that is pending in Congress. She explained to the guests in the room that everyone here and at home can make a difference in school meals by contacting your Congressman and expressing your desire to see real change.
At 10:15 AM, we were dismissed from breakfast and paraded through the streets of our Nation’s Capitol to the sidewalk outside of the White House gate. The sea of white was something rarely seen in Washington, DC; with exception to the dumping of snow the city experienced this past winter. We, all 700 of us, waited patiently in the 90 degree heat to gain access to the south lawn of the White House. Upon entrance we were given a paper toque and directed to the White House garden. Walking the grounds you felt like you were in any other city park, except for the Secret Service Officers in black tactical gear carrying their high powered machine guns. While it may have caught a few chefs off guard, it relaxed me a bit. With all those chefs in one place at the same time, the ego level was higher than any other time ever at the White House; the presence of officers with machine guns was a welcome sight.
As the Marine Corp Brass Ensemble played; the First Lady exited stage right and made her way to the first row of chefs to greet them. When she got to me, she said “Thanks for all you do”, I responded “Thank you for all your support.” Before another breath could come out, she was gone, walking down the line, hurried by her press secretary and the Secret Service.
Those five simple words she uttered will make a difference in the life of children. Knowing that the White House cares about the future of our children, does not make my job any easier, but it certainly offers the children a glimmer of hope.
In conclusion, I have said it before and I will continue to repeat it: “Systematic change in needed in this country to control childhood obesity and to educate our children on proper nutrition and choosing REAL foods. With the support of the Obama Administration, Share Our Strength, School Nutrition Association and many other local and national organizations this change has begun. Chefs are rock stars; children look up to us; when I walk into one of my schools in my chef jacket, the eyes of the children light up and I am asked if I am on Food TV, or Iron Chef. The children are interested to what I have to say, it is very easy to engage children with food, real food from local farms. Children want to learn and Chefs Move to Schools is the program to see through with the necessary change. I am very happy to be working so close with the White House to help make these changes.”
HERE. To view the list of Chefs and/or Schools that have already signed up click HERE.