Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wednesday Star Turn: Chef Spike Mendelsohn & Maya Soetoro-Ng Join "Let's Read. Let's Move"

Education Secretary Arne Duncan will welcome two authors who have White House connections to the Department of Education in Washington, DC on Wednesday when he hosts the third Let's Read. Let's Move lunchtime storyhour for area kids. Maya Soetoro-Ng, half sister of President Obama, and DC restaurateur Spike Mendelsohn, one of First Lady Obama's favorite local chefs, will make their debut in the summer enrichment series, where they will read children’s books, play games, and participate in fitness activities. (Soetoro-Ng, above)

Let's Read Let's Move is a school vacation component of the First Lady's childhood obesity campaign, launched last summer to prevent reading loss and encourage kids to get fit. It brings together Cabinet members, Administration officials and public figures each week for an hour of fun, and is sponsored by major corporations that donate books, healthy snacks, and fitness gear. Mrs. Obama and her mother, Mrs. Marian Robinson, participated in the series last summer.  Students from Horizons Greater Washington, the HHS/ED Children’s Center, have been invited to this week's event.

“Ladder to the Moon,” Soetoro-Ng's fist picture book, was published by Candlewick Press in April. It is a personal book: The main character is a child named Suhaila, the name of Soetoro-Ng's first daughter, and the tale recounts her magical trip to the moon, where wise "Grandma Annie" teaches her about suffering and humanity on earth. The President and Soetoro-Ng's mother was Stanley Ann Dunham, who died before Suhaila was born, and Soetoro-Ng says the book was inspired by her daughter’s questions about her grandmother.

Mendelsohn has been a repeat White House guest chef, and his two Capitol Hill restaurants, Good Stuff Eatery and We, The Pizza, have enjoyed many visits from Mrs. Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha. A former Top Chef competitor, Mendelsohn's The Good Stuff Cookbook was published in 2010 by John Wiley & Sons. Mendelsohn was an early innovator of Obama Homage Foods, creating the President Obama Burger during the 2008 campaign. He later added the Michelle Melt, a healthy Turkey Burger, to his oeuvre. (Above: Mendelsohn, left, with Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass at the White House)

US Attorney General Eric Holder, NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan joined Duncan at ED headquarters on July 6th to kick off this summer's series. (Above: Duncan, Holder, and Abdul-Jabbar during the event)

This year's corporate partners include Target, which is providing books and healthy snacks for the kids, and Nickelodeon, which is providing cookbooks and pedometers. The YMCA of Metropolitan Washington Physical, Healthy, Drive (PHD) program is contributing staff and resources to conduct games.

The series last summer was called "Let's Read. Let's Move." with periods in its title rather than exclamation points.

Top photo by Tom Gail/Washington post; second by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama; third by Leslie Williams/Department of Education

No comments:

Post a Comment