Asian Reporter, V31, #4 (April 5, 2021), page 7.
Michelle Obama aims to give a million meals in
By Haleluya Hadero
The Associated Press
Michelle Obama launched a nonprofit campaign that aims to
provide more than 1 million meals to food-insecure families in
connection with the March 16 debut of her children’s food show
The "Pass the Love w/ Waffles + Mochi" initiative, named
after the new series "Waffles + Mochi," is a collaborative
campaign by the nonprofit Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA),
its honorary chair Obama, and Higher Ground Productions, the
production company owned by the former first lady and her
husband, former President Barack Obama.
The nonprofit says the campaign was inspired by the series,
which tells the story of two puppet friends who "travel the
world exploring the wonders of food and culture while learning
how to cook with fresh ingredients."
Walmart and Blue Apron have jumped in to support the
initiative, which also aims to "leverage the show, its
characters, and Mrs. Obama to meaningfully shift our food
culture toward more affordable, fun, at-home meals for families
of every income level," according to the nonprofit.
PHA president and CEO Nancy Roman told The Associated Press
that the two companies will contribute funds to the campaign and
raise money for it among their customers. More than half the
money is expected to come from the public, Roman says.
The nonprofit was created in conjunction with Michelle
Obama’s Let’s Move! effort in 2010. The former first lady, who
has long been a champion of healthy eating, said in the
announcement last month that the idea is to "help make sure
families all over the country can access fresh, nutritious food"
amid the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. has seen a significant rise in hunger during the
virus outbreak. One estimate from the organization Feeding
America says around 45 million Americans in 2020 may have
experienced food insecurity — limited or uncertain access to
adequate food — compared with 35 million in 2019.
Caitlin Caspi, a University of Connecticut professor who
studies food insecurity, says the rise in unemployment, the
closure of schools, and disruptions across food systems — like
shortages of staple foods in the early days of the pandemic —
all played a factor in the increase. And many, left with few
options, turned to food banks for help.
The issue has been "most pronounced among households with
children, and in particular, households with children of color,"
"Meal boxes that provide fresh food and a complete set of
ingredients to households are one way to reduce the impact of
these food access disruptions, and to get healthy meals on the
table," she added.
The food service organization Genuine Foods will source and
assemble the campaign’s meal boxes, which will then be
distributed by local nonprofits in various cities. Roman says
they will begin to roll out the campaign in cities that have the
highest child poverty rates as the funds are raised.
The rollout will start in May, Roman says, and continue
throughout the year. Each city deployment is expected to take
place over four weeks.
"We’re thinking of a pace of about two a month," Roman said.
But, she added, "It will depend in part on how the campaign is
The Associated Press receives support from the Lilly
Endowment for coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits. The AP is
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