Washington, D.C. — First Lady Michelle Obama and West Virginia Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition Executive Director Richard Goff helped students from five District of Columbia schools make a meal using the summer crop from the White House Kitchen Garden during this year's summer garden harvest on Thursday, June 12.
All the schools which participated in the event have successfully implemented the school nutrition standards put in place by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The students of these schools were rewarded by participating in the garden planting in April at the White House and the summer harvest in June with the First Lady.
Also honored for their success and advocacy for nutritious school lunch programs, Goff and two other school nutrition directors from Orlando and Dallas were invited by the First Lady to participate in the event.
"It was such an honor to receive an invitation and the opportunity to visit the White House in support of the First Lady's successes related to health and wellness," said Goff. "The White House Kitchen Garden Harvest event was wonderful. The White House recognizes that West Virginia was fortunate enough to adopt most of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act provisions more than six years ago and serves as a testimony that it is possible to provide our school children with a safe and healthy learning environment. Mrs. Obama was so kind to me and her dedication to the health of our children was so sincere and heartfelt."
Over 90 percent of schools nationwide meet the criteria of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and our nation's children are now consuming more fruits and vegetables. "For millions of kids in this country, their main source of nutrition comes from the food that they get in their schools," Mrs. Obama said. "It's up to us to make sure that these kids get the best food that they can get into their stomachs because it's not just about nutrition, it’s about their academic success."
Goff and the other nutrition directors jumped right in with the First Lady, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and White House chefs to help the students prepare salad lunches from the produce of their own fruit and vegetable patch from the White House Kitchen Garden. Following the preparation, they all sat down together to enjoy the meal in the State Dining Room of the White House. Goff then received a personal tour of the White House Kitchen Garden by Sam Kass, Assistant White House Chef and Food Initiative Coordinator.
With the direction of Goff, the WVDE Office of Child Nutrition has worked with schools across the state to implement healthy standards, and now no schools in the state sell sugar-sweetened beverages or junk foods. In addition, the Child Nutrition Office is working with county nutrition directors and school cooks across the state to ensure more fresh fruits and vegetables are incorporated into their menus and healthier food is offered through meals cooked in the schools' kitchens.
The West Virginia Feed to Achieve Act, passed by the state legislature in April 2013, ensures that every student in the state gets the opportunity to receive a minimum of two nutritious meals per day by 2015. About 70 percent of West Virginia schoolchildren rely on cafeteria breakfasts and lunches as their primary source of nutrition.
Mrs. Obama recognizes the great work West Virginia is doing in child nutrition and the difference in public health Goff is making with his hard work. The honor of being invited to the White House Kitchen Garden Harvest and the experience of working alongside the First Lady was, as Goff says, "A definite highlight to my career."
For more information, contact the Communication Office at (304) 558-2699.