More Street Closings and Subsidized Food Mark the ‘Next Chapter’ of Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ Initiative

Let's Move

First lady Michelle Obama joins children on stage during a Let’s Move event in Iowa in February 2012. (AP Photo)

( – “Let’s Move,” Michelle Obama’s food-and-fitness project, is going local — because childhood obesity is a problem “that can’t be solved just at the national level,” Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.

The first lady and Sebelius on Wednesday announced the “next chapter” of “Let’s Move,” which calls on local officials in the nation’s cities, towns and counties to “focus on improving the health of their communities.”

Among other things, the administration wants local elected leaders to “commit to increasing participation in the School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch program.”

The administration also wants local leaders to create more play areas for children, and with that goal in mind, Sebelius announced that the BlueCross BlueShield Association has agreed to pitch in by funding city street closings.

These so-called “play streets” allow children and their families to run, walk, bike or play outside without worrying about traffic. Sebelius said the BlueCross BlueShield Association has agreed to fund Play Street scholarships in 10 cities and towns across the country between now and October 2013 to create at least four Play Streets in each city or town.

The nation’s largest cities,  including New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, already have summertime play street programs.

Mrs. Obama and Secretary Sebelius have set five goals for the “next chapter” of “Let’s Move,” as follows:

1. To provide children with a healthier start, local elected officials commit to helping daycare and early-education providers incorporate “best practices” for nutrition, physical activity and screen time into their programs.

2. To empower parents and caregivers, local elected officials commit to prominently displaying the “My Plate” dietary guidelines in all municipal or county venues where food is served.

3. To provide healthy food in schools, local elected officials commit to increasing participation in the School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program.

4. To improve access to healthy, affordable foods, local elected officials commit to implementing “healthy and sustainable” food service guidelines in all municipal and county venues that serve food. (More fresh produce from local farmer’s markets, in other words.)

5. To increase physical activity, local elected officials commit to boosting access to play spaces.

Local officials who wish to sign up for the next chapter of “Let’s Move” must indicate their willingness to commit to the five goals stated above. Once enrolled, they will have opportunities to “showcase” their accomplishments on a website set up for that purpose.

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