Many GW students who experienced a presidential inauguration in person for the first time this year will vividly remember Barack Obama’s inauguration speech. The President made mention of some of his hopes for the future and noted some of the accomplishments of his first term in office. The Obama administration, however, has not just been marked by what the President has done — Michelle Obama has done her part to contribute to the administration’s agenda as well.
Michelle Obama’s nutrition initiatives during her husband’s first term included the organization of the White House Kitchen Garden and her physical activity campaign, “Let’s Move!,” which aims to decrease (and eventually end) childhood obesity. The First Lady also released a book in 2012, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America, which serves to promote healthy eating. These initiatives, however, failed to make an appearance in the recent inaugural luncheon menu, which included multiple dishes laden with heavy cream, butter, and oil.
According to a report published by Fox News, the decadent inaugural luncheon hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies registered over 3,000 calories. The calculation comes courtesy of CalorieCount.com’s Rachel Berman, who noted to the Diets In Review website that while it is acceptable to indulge every once in a while, the inaugural luncheon was “in light of the First Lady’s obesity initiatives…definitely a missed opportunity for nutrition education.”
Similar disparities have also become apparent on GW’s campus. Recent health initiatives on GW’s part, such as the recent ban on smoking, represent one intention, while the recent addition of fast food chain Auntie Anne’s — and the future addition of DC food trucks — to students’ meal plans represents another. Yes, students have the choice of whether or not to partake in the consumption of less healthy menu items, but GW must address the continuity of its health initiatives in all spheres of campus life.
There is perhaps no more appropriate time to voice concerns regarding health across the university — the season of choosing a new Student Association will soon be upon us. GW prides itself on its proximity to the White House, and it seems only logical that the university make a concerted effort to get more on board with the First Lady’s initiatives. A healthier campus is a happier campus for all: for students who won’t have to look outside our campus’s dining plan to find non-greasy fare for Sunday brunch, and for campus administrators who could champion nutritious dining options as a pathway to the university’s goal of urban sustainability.
Unlike the inaugural luncheon, student dining choices occur every day. Students should not by any means be forced to consume nutritious food if they do not wish to do so, but it should not be the other way around. Michelle Obama has used her first four years in the national spotlight to champion more nutritious eating — perhaps GW should follow suit.