You can imagine the excitement that ran through my bones when I opened my official invitation to the White House through the organization Latinos in Social Media (LATISM). "Wow! Really? I was chosen as one of the TOP 70 LATINA BLOGGERS in the NATION!”
Out of the 70 that were chosen in May, only 5 were food bloggers -- including me! I was honored and completely in disbelief. I packed my bags and headed to D.C. to meet up with all my fellow blogueras.
We went through thorough background checks and miles of red tape just to be allowed to enter the gates of the White House. But once we were in, we were free to roam the halls and make ourselves at home. I’m serious. We were all certainly snap-happy shutter bugs.
Here are a few pictures of what I captured just on my walk to the designated conference room:
Once in the conference room we listened with open ears as Liz Fowler (Special Assistant to the President, National Economic Council), Alejandra Ceja (Chief of Staff, Office of the Under Secretary, Department of Education), Lisa Pino (Deputy Administrator, Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program, Department of Agriculture), Marissa Duswalt (Associate Director for Policy and Events, Let’s Move Initiative), and Julie Rodriguez (Associate Director, Office of Public Engagement) took the floor with keynotes on what the nation could expect from health initiatives, and public school food programing.
Many startling statistics were shared. For Latino children it literally is feast or famine. Thirty percent of Latino children are obese and 30 percent are struggling to find their next meal. I was touched to find out how the White House plans to remedy this problem. Did you know that 1,000 public schools currently have a salad bar in their cafeterias? They are mainly being placed in elementary schools to introduce salad and vegetables to the younger children so they can grow up making healthier choices. The goal is to have 6,000 salad bars in public schools by this fall, and double that by fall of 2013. Thumbs up!
I loved hearing that. Also many farmers markets are now excepting EBT cards as a form of payment to make sure families of all walks of life are able to obtain healthy and wholesome foods and provide their families with fresh fruit and leafy greens. They will also accept EBT cards where seeds are sold in order to allow people to grow their own gardens and have a bounty of fresh veggies to put on their dinner table.
This brought tears to my eyes. One of the best things I heard was that awful pink slime would be forbidden from being served in any meat products in public schools. Hooray! For more information on federal food initiatives go to ChooseMyPlate.gov.
My visit to the White House was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget and was humbled by all the amazing women I was privileged enough to go with. I will keep these memories close to my heart…para siempre. Thank you LATISM and Latina Bloggers Connect for the beautiful adventure.
(All photos taken by Nicole Presley, Ericka Sanchez and Silvia Martinez.)
This post is part of the MomsRising "Making the School Day Healthier" Blog Carnival headlined by Top Chef Lorena Garcia."