The posters went up last week, 14 in Union Station. On each of the large displays, a thought bubble rises up from a picture of a beautiful 8-year-old: “President Obama‘s daughters get healthy school lunches. Why don’t I?”
A Washington nonprofit that advocates nutrition-policy reform paid $20,000 to get its message across and carefully maneuvered Metro’s tangle of regulations to display its posters. Metro gave it a go — but the White House did not, according to the group. Within 24 hours of the signs’ appearance, the White House asked the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to take down the ads, which feature Jasmine Messiah, a vegetarian who attends a Miami-Dade County public school that, she says, offers no vegetarian or vegan lunch options.
The Physicians Committee has declined to take down the posters.
PCRM President Neal Barnard, a nutrition researcher, says he received a phone call regarding the posters Aug. 4 (a day after they went up) from Associate Counsel Karen Dunn and Deputy Associate Counsel Ian Bassin.
“They’re very nice people. I like them a lot,” Barnard says. “But they called and said: Please take those down, you can’t mention the kids and so forth. . . . They felt that mentioning the president’s children was off-limits. They said [they’re] not going to allow the use of their daughters as leverage.”