THE television cameras were rolling, the journalists were scribbling and the first lady, Michelle Obama, was standing in a soup kitchen rhapsodizing about steamed broccoli. And homemade mushroom risotto. And freshly baked apple-carrot muffins.
Mrs. Obama was praising the menu last week at Miriam’s Kitchen, a nonprofit drop-in center serving this city’s homeless. And she seized the moment to urge Americans to provide fresh, unprocessed and locally grown foods to their families and to the neediest in their communities.
“You know, we want to make sure our guests here and across the nation are eating nutritious items,” said Mrs. Obama, who served lunch to several homeless men and women and delivered eight cases of fresh fruit to the soup kitchen, all donated by White House employees.
“Collect some fruits and vegetables; bring by some good healthy food,” she said. “We can provide this kind of healthy food for communities across the country, and we can do it by each of us lending a hand.”
In her first weeks in the White House, Mrs. Obama has emerged as a champion of healthy food and healthy living. She has praised community vegetable gardens, opened up her own kitchen to show off the White House chefs’ prowess with vegetables and told stories about feeding less fattening foods to her daughters.
White House officials say the focus on healthy living will be a significant item on Mrs. Obama’s agenda, which already includes supporting working families and military spouses. As the nation battles an obesity epidemic and a hard-to-break taste for oversweetened and oversalted dishes, her message is clear: Fresh, nutritious foods are not delicacies to be savored by the wealthy, but critical components of the diets of ordinary and struggling families.
And while you’re planning this year’s garden, why not take up Michelle Obama’s suggestion and plan to grow a little extra to donate to a local food pantry – many in our area accept donations of fresh food. For a list, including contact information and logistics such as who to contact and when food can be dropped off, visit www.seacoasteatlocal.wikispaces.com