As communities and organizations get behind First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to solve the childhood-obesity epidemic within a generation, one group that could have a tremendous impact on the health and well-being of children is the nation’s chefs.
That’s why Christopher Koetke, dean of Kendall’s School of Culinary Arts and vice president, culinary arts, of Laureate International Universities network, along with Renee Zonka, managing director and associate dean of the school, and baking-and-pastry instructor Heidi Hedeker joined more than 500 chefs from across the country on Friday, June 4, to attend Mrs. Obama’s “Chefs Move to Schools” kickoff on the South Lawn of the White House.
The Chefs Move to Schools program, which will be run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and led by Sam Kass, White House assistant chef, is the latest in Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign. At the June 4 gathering, Obama addressed the chefs who will participate in the pilot launch of the program and encouraged them to help kids build healthy habits to last a lifetime. She asked chefs to find other volunteers, put on cooking demonstrations, work with elementary-school teachers and help students plant a garden.
“Food is at the core of what makes life wonderful, and you all know how the ingredients we put into our bodies can affect the way we feel, the way we think and how we grow,” said Mrs. Obama to chefs in attendance. “This is especially true when we are talking about our nation’s kids. Nearly one-third of children in this country are now overweight or obese.”
Zonka, who developed and implemented the culinary-nutrition concentration in the School of Culinary Arts’ bachelor’s program, said Kendall College is committed to promoting nutrition education in greater Chicago. “We’re aligning with various groups in the area to become known as the authority on nutrition and a resource for information and expertise,” she says.