Tuesday, February 07, 2012

EDITORIAL >> Welcome, Mrs. Obama

Michelle Obama will land at Little Rock Air Force Base on Thursday to promote the second anniversary of her “Let’s Move!” initiative geared toward fighting childhood obesity.

We extend an Arkansas welcome to the first lady, whose health and fitness campaign will complement the military’s efforts to improve the nutritional content of food served on military bases.

The base is one of six military installations taking part in a pilot program designed to improve the quality, variety and availability of food for the men and women in uniform and their dependents.

The first lady will be briefed about the healthy eating habits of airmen and tour the dining facility. She will sit down and eat with about 40 airmen and discuss how they feel about the pilot program.

The first lady’s three-day tour kicks off in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday morning and makes stops at Jacksonville, Fort Worth and Dallas, as well as Homestead, Orlando and Longwood, Fla.

Mrs. Obama kicked off “Let’s Move!” exactly two years ago to reduce childhood obesity. According to a White House press release, some of the initiative’s accomplishments include the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. In January, the USDA released school meal regulations updating the quality of nutrition through the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs. The updates call for more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to be served at schools, as well as meals with less sodium, saturated fat and trans fat.

Grocers have committed to build or expand 1,500 stores in communities with little to no access to healthy food. Approximately 9.5 million people will now have healthier food choices available to them, according to the White House.

While the first lady visits here, let’s hope she finds the time to drop in at the two fine schools at the air base, the new Flightline Academy for middle-school students and the award-winning Arnold Drive Elementary. In 2010, the U.S. Education Department named Arnold Drive a Blue Ribbon school for academic excellence, one of only four schools in Arkansas to get the award.

Arnold Drive Elementary has about 250 students and about half qualify for free or reduced lunches. The website Schooldigger.com gives Arnold Drive a five-star rating, placing it 16th among the state’s 457 elementary schools.

Mrs. Obama will be impressed.