This week First Lady Michelle Obama was joined by Elmo and Rosita from Sesame Street as she announced that Sesame Workshop and Produce Marketing Association (PMA) are partnering to promote healthy food choices for kids. Using popular characters, such as Big Bird, Elmo, Rosita, and Abby Cadabby to market healthy foods is a strategy that Cornell University researchers determined is helpful in assisting kids in making better food choices. Published last October in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, “Can branding improve school lunches” found that when researchers gave kids a choice between eating an apple, a cookie, or both, the majority of the children selected the cookie. When researchers put Elmo stickers on the apples and let children choose again, nearly double the number of kids reached for the apple.
“Just imagine what will happen when we take our kids to the grocery store, and they see Elmo and Rosita and the other Sesame Street Muppets they love up and down the produce aisle,” said Mrs. Obama. “Imagine what it will be like to have our kids begging us to buy them fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, candy, and chips.”
Elmo and Rosita joined the First Lady for this announcement before joining elementary school children from Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia in the White House Kitchen Garden for the annual fall harvest. Schools were invited because they have started to offer healthy snack options. Starting next year, all schools will be required to follow the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards that are designed to provide healthier choices through vending machines and a la carte lines.
Twenty-five elementary students assisted in harvesting pumpkins, sweet potatoes, broccoli, eggplant, beans, peppers, ginger, and a variety of greens before filling whole grain tortillas with turkey, hummus, and assorted vegetables, and joining Mrs. Obama for a mid-afternoon snack on the grounds of the White House.
Flip through these photos for an inside look at Mrs. Obama’s announcement with Elmo and Rosita (made in the White House State Dining Room), and the fall harvest in the White House Kitchen Garden, where “Let’s Move” Executive Director Sam Kass, White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford, and Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses were on-hand to help the area school children with the harvest.
Mrs. Obama with her White House Kitchen Garden fall harvest helpers 1 of 17
These kids and their schools were chosen because they are already committed to healthy choices for their students, something that will become a requirement for all schools in the future!
Let’s Move Executive Director, Sam Kass and White House Executive Chef, Cris Comerford 2 of 17
Let's Move Executive Director, Sam Kass, and White House Executive Chef, Cris Comerford, welcome 25 elementary school children to the White House Kitchen Garden for the fall harvest.
Getting ready to greet the First Lady 3 of 17
Sam Kass of Let's Move got the kids excited to meet Mrs. Obama.
Michelle Obama 4 of 17
Having changed from a gorgeous red dress worn during the press briefing, Michelle Obama strolls to the White House Kitchen Garden to meet the kids looking casual yet chic and ready to harvest.
Welcoming guests to the White House Kitchen Garden’s annual fall harvest 5 of 17
Michelle Obama welcomes the kids to the White House Kitchen Garden's annual fall harvest. Two of the Washington, D.C. schools in attendance are regulars at the White House to assist with the garden.
The Muppets talk about their favorite vegetables 6 of 17
Elmo took off his tie and Rosita left her pearls and the yellow flower that had been in her hair for the press briefing inside to join Mrs. Obama and elementary students for the harvest.
Rosita asks Mrs. Obama for some broccoli because it’s her favorite vegetable! 7 of 17
Rosita and Mrs. Obama had a wonderful exchange about broccoli being the furry character's favorite vegetable. During the press briefing Rosita had shared how to say broccoli in Spanish saying, "It's brÃ³coli!."
Mrs. Obama helps elementary students harvest broccoli 8 of 17
Wielding a knife, the First Lady was quick to jump in and help kids harvest stalks of broccoli that quickly filled a large basket.
The First Lady assists in digging up the garden’s giant carrots 9 of 17
Not afraid to get her hands dirty, Mrs. Obama dug and pulled up the garden's gigantic carrots as shown off by this elementary student.
Bill Yosses, White House Executive Pastry Chef, searches for beans hiding among the garden’s vines 10 of 17
It was an all-hands-on-deck kind of day as White House Executive Pastry Chef, Bill Yosses, helped kids, parents, and teachers search for beans hiding among the garden's vines.
Pumpkin harvest 11 of 17
Mrs. Obama harvests the garden's pumpkins the day before Halloween.
Digging for sweet potatoes 12 of 17
Michelle Obama and Sam Kass wield pitchforks to dig deep for sweet potatoes, one of the 27 fruits and vegetables currently growing in the White House Kitchen Garden.
Snack time 13 of 17
After the harvest, students construct their own turkey rollups as a snack.
The First Lady earned a snack for working hard too! 14 of 17
Elmo and Rosita supervise as the First Lady assembles her turkey rollup.
The First Lady sits down for lunch with the kids 15 of 17
The First Lady sits down for lunch with the kids for a taste of her turkey rollup.
Snacks on the grounds of the White House 16 of 17
Carrot soup was served alongside the turkey rollups.
Fall harvest 17 of 17
A bountiful fall harvest from the White House Kitchen Garden, and here's looking forward to healthier food for our kids!
The White House has shared video of Michelle Obama speaking at the White House Kitchen Garden and The First Lady’s announcement about partnerships between Sesame Workshop and PWA to encourage healthy food choices for kids.
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Photos taken by Leticia Barr