AES staff takes part in White House event

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shown are Bobby Richardson, Stephanie Dillard, Angie Brewer and Patty Taylor in front of the White House earlier this month. Courtesy photo


Members of the Andalusia Elementary School’s child nutrition team have returned from a trip of a lifetime –the First Lady’s event to honor America’s educators in the battle against childhood obesity.

The group, which consisted of Andalusia Elementary School Principal Patty Taylor; Stephanie Dillard, ACS child nutrition director; Bobby Richardson, child nutrition manager; and Angie Brewer, child nutrition assistant, was among the more than 1,000 school officials who attended the “Let’s Move” party last Monday. The event was held in honor of meeting First Lady Michelle Obama’s goal of doubling the number of schools nationwide who participate in the HealthierUS School Challenge in one year. The original goal was 1,250; however, that number was increased to 1,631 and includes AES.

“It was truly an experience of a lifetime,” Dillard said. “It’s not often you get invited to the White House.”

Obama told the crowd they were affecting eating habits that will last a lifetime.

“You’re affecting not only how these kids feed themselves, but how they’re going to feed their children,” she said.

It’s estimated that many children get up to half of their daily calories at school, a major problem when one in three children is overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The school challenge is a program run by the USDA that rewards schools participating in the National School Lunch Program for voluntarily adopting healthy USDA standards for food served in cafeterias, and for providing students with nutrition education and opportunities for physical activity.

Richardson has served as the AES nutrition manager for nearly two years, and while the majority of the cafeteria’s health standards had changed before he was hired, he said he knows there are more coming in the future.

“Now, there’s a lot more attention being paid to what kids are eating than has been in the past to avoid childhood obesity,” he said. “Mrs. Obama talked a lot about that. It was quite an experience. Those changes were in effect when I got here, but new changes are coming, like a big reduction in sodium or salt intake and there’s a possibility that chocolate milk won’t be served because while the milk we serve is fat-free, it still has sugar in it.

“I’m still taking it in,” he said of the trip. “It’s not every day you get to go to the White House.”