20 Most Influential: Michelle Obama, Let’s Move!

Obama's Lets Move! campaign is dedicated to solving obesity within a generation.

Official White House photo by Chuck Kennedy

Michelle Obama
First Lady; Creator,
Let’s Move! Washington, D.C.

It’s good to have friends in high places. And it doesn’t get much higher than the White House.

Never before has one person brought so much attention to school cafeterias. Since her family took up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in early 2009, Michelle Obama has been the biggest advocate on a nationwide basis for child nutrition. She started Lets Move!, a campaign dedicated to solving obesity within a generation.

One of Let’s Move!’s five focus pillars is providing healthy foods in schools. To help accomplish this goal, Obama developed Chefs Move to Schools, to pair commercial chefs with school foodservice teams for training and inspiration.

“Chefs are one of the few groups that have that deep knowledge of food and cooking but also have that star power to turn a vegetable into a fun, exciting moment,” Sam Kass, assistant White House chef and senior policy advisor for healthy food initiatives, says about Chefs Move to Schools. “There is something about a chef’s coat that kids are really drawn to. We wanted to have that knowledge and power to support what schools were doing.”

It’s not just the chefs who bring excitement to school cafeterias. Kass says when Obama walks into a school it’s “pandemonium.”

“The first lady has had a tremendous impact on school lunch and the school meal program,” Kass adds. “The most important accomplishment was helping to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which will bring more resources than ever before to school meal programs and improve the nutritional standards for the first time in 15 years. It’s going to help school chefs who are working hard to put nutritious meals on the plate.” 


Foodservice Director has undertaken a bold initiative by identifying people who we believe are having the biggest impact on non-commercial foodservice. Our list may surprise you and should certainly intrigue you. Our honorees have backgrounds as varied as their personalities. They range from the father of the modern-day food truck to the wife of a sitting president. They include operators and suppliers, chefs and consultants, CEOs and civil servants. There are traditionalists and there are mavericks. Well-known names share space with hot newcomers. In all, 17 people, two groups of individuals and one institution compose the list. It’s time to meet FSD’s 20 Most Influential.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

This semester, the East Quad dining team at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is taking steps to offer more authentic global cuisine , Michigan Daily reports.

The team has partnered with the Office of Student Life to start a conversation with students on how best to create and serve Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. Additionally, the university invited chefs from Japan and India to campus to help its chefs create more authentic recipes.

The school’s push for more accurate global cuisine was partially inspired by an international food event that got cancelled...

Industry News & Opinion
Madison food truck

The Madison Metropolitan School District in Madison, Wis., has partnered with a local organization to debut a food truck that will serve healthy, locally sourced lunch options for Madison high school students, according to The Capital Times .

The truck, which was donated by the Emmi Roth Cheese Co., will visit four high schools Tuesday through Friday, spending a day at each campus. Students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch can use the food truck as they would the school cafeteria for no-cost or discounted meals.

Members of MMSD and partner organization REAP Food...

Industry News & Opinion

Identifying prospective employees may be less challenging for foodservice operators than getting would-be recruits to complete the hiring process , according to a new study of why job applicants bail.

The report shows that nearly three out of fours applicants (74%) will drop their effort to be hired if they suspect management is racist, and two out of three (62%) will flee if they learn of sexual harassment allegations. Roughly the same proportion (65%) will halt their pursuit if they encounter indications of a gender gap in pay.

About half (45%) of candidates won’t show...

Menu Development
zoodles

Here’s how two operations are spotlighting produce this season.

Oodles of zoodles

Binghamton University underscored its growing focus on plant-based options with a recent zoodle pop-up on campus. The pop-up, which served vegetable noodle bowls in vegan and vegetarian varieties, sold out of the dishes in four hours. The Binghamton, N.Y., school aims to add zoodles to its regular menu in the fall.

A buffet boost

The dining team at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, recently re-evaluated its buffet offerings with an eye toward adding healthy options. It updated the fruit and...

FSD Resources