Michelle Obama (pictured) has a new a partner in her effort to convince children to eat healthier: the Subway sandwich chain.
Subway will spend $41 million over three years to encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables by offering a menu that reflects federal standards for school lunches. It will offer apples on the side and low-fat or nonfat plain milk or water as a default beverage, according to a statement released by the White House on Thursday:
I’m excited about these initiatives not just as a First Lady, but also as a Mom,” Michelle Obama said in the statement. “Subway’s kids’ menu makes life easier for parents, because they know that no matter what their kids order, it’s going to be a healthy choice.”
The First Lady also held a press conference Thursday at one of the Connecticut-based chain’s restaurants, just north of the White House. She was accompanied by some of Subway’s famous celebrity endorsers, including Olympians Nastia Lukin, who prepared Mrs. Obama’s sandwich, and Michael Phelps, along with New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck.
During the event, the Associated Press reports that the First Lady went to the counter and ordered a turkey on whole wheat bread with spinach, peppers, and oil and vinegar dressing. She paid the $4.40 bill with $20 and enjoyed her lunch while chatting with a group of local elementary school students who had been invited for the announcement.
Subway’s commitment is “a natural extension of what we do,” Tony Pace, Subway’s chief marketing officer, told the AP in a telephone interview. The chain offers a line of lean-meat and vegetable sandwiches that have been certified by the American Heart Association, as well as a trio of breakfast sandwiches with fewer than 200 calories apiece.
Pace told the AP that people are becoming more aware of the importance of eating healthier.
Subway’s announcement, an extension of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, follows a food marketing summit to kids that Obama held at the White House last fall. She encouraged food and beverage makers, media and entertainment companies, and others to do more to encourage children to healthier foods.
A month after the September summit, Obama announced that the nonprofit group that produces TV’s “Sesame Street” had agreed to let the produce industry use Elmo, Big Bird, and its other furry characters free of charge in its kid-focused advertising, the AP reports.
Subway will work with the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), a nonprofit organization that works with the private sector to help advance the goals of Let’s Move! the childhood obesity initiative Mrs. Obama launched in 2010, a year after becoming First Lady. Its goal is to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and engages every sector impacting the health of children to help them become more active and eat better.
“Ending childhood obesity is a cause that has been near and dear to Subway since we introduced the Fresh Fit for Kids Meals in 2007,” said Suzanne Greco, vice president operations for the Subway brand. “With this partnership with PHA, we will now reach millions of kids as part of a healthier eating education campaign, making it our largest outreach campaign to date. From a sign on each restaurant’s door that says ‘Playtime Powered by Veggies’ to a video collaboration with Disney’s The Muppets, we will build upon our ongoing efforts to create even better choices for families. We hold ourselves to the highest standards in the industry when it comes to speaking to children and their families. Now we are letting everyone else know what that standard is.”