2016-04-06 / Front Page

A VISIT FROM THE FIRST LADY

Burke Middle School is first stop on Mrs. Obama’s American Garden Tour
By A. LeeAnn Chalker


Burke County Schools Nutrition Director Donna Martin (right) met First Lady Michelle Obama previously in June 2014 when she attended a roundtable discussion about school nutrition guidelines. Burke County Schools Nutrition Director Donna Martin (right) met First Lady Michelle Obama previously in June 2014 when she attended a roundtable discussion about school nutrition guidelines. Delivering big news on April Fool’s Day is always tricky.

“We received official confirmation of the First Lady’s visit on Friday.” said Donna Martin, Director of Burke County School’s Nutrition Programs. “A few people didn’t believe it at first.”

The process started Wednesday afternoon when Martin received a call from the Office of the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. A chief staff member of that office expressed to Martin the First Lady’s appreciation of her commitment to school nutrition. Current programs at Burke public schools include a STEM-based learning garden, the Farm-to-Table Program, cooking with a Charlie Cart mobile kitchen and the BCHS Farmer’s Market.

“We have done a lot of work to develop an excellent, comprehensive nutrition program.” said Martin. “Mrs. Obama is so passionate about good nutrition and we’re thrilled that we can show her the fruits of her labor and that it really can work.”

Healthy eating among schoolaged children is the basis of Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, which is aimed at lowering childhood obesity rates. Today one in three children are overweight or obese, putting them at high risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer and asthma. Many medical studies also suggest that for the first time the life expectancy of the current generation of children (born after 2000) is lower than that of their parents.

This Thursday, Burke County Middle School has the honor of being the first school outside of the Washington D.C. metro area that the First Lady will visit for a school garden program. Burke Middle is also the first stop on the First Lady’s American Garden Tour, which kicked off this Tuesday at the White House. There students from across the country were invited to help plant the 8th annual White House Garden on the South Lawn with Mrs. Obama and representatives from NASA. So far there are only two stops on the Tour; the other is the Philip’s Academy Charter School in Newark, New Jersey.

The activities planned for Mrs. Obama’s visit are the planting of a kitchen garden (which she will personally participate in) and a lunch made using foods from the same local sources used for school lunches. Joining in the activities are 22 Burke Middle students (20 sixth graders and 2 seventh graders) who have done extensive work with the school’s STEM learning garden.

“The President’s term ends soon, but she’s still working.” Martin said of the First Lady. “It goes to show her amazing commitment and that she truly wants to make a lasting difference.”

A MEAL WITH THE FIRST LADY

One of the priorities for the visit’s itinerary was a chance to share a totally locally sourced meal with Mrs. Obama. At press time the menu for a lunch on Thursday included:

Herb-baked chicken or barbecue
Collard greens
Squash casserole
Strawberries
Lettuce varieties from Fisheads’
Cucumber & tomato salad
Cheese grits
Cornbread

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