(UPDATED 3:50 p.m.) Sam Kass, first lady Michelle Obama’s spokesman on child nutrition and a big fruit and vegetable advocate is stepping down from his White House post.
Kass, the executive director of the first lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, personal chef to the first family and the first White House senior policy advisor on nutrition, plans leave the post at the end of the month and move to New York City, according to a White House news release Dec. 8.
Kass plans to remain involved with Let’s Move! and child nutrition issues, according to the release. His successor will be named early next year.
Kass was 29 when he joined the White House in 2009 and immediately began to advocate for nutrition issues. He helped create the first major vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden, and supported the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. In 2012, Kass helped advocate for updated nutrition standards for schools, calling the fruit- and vegetable-friendly standards a “real change” for 32 million students.
Kass worked with the United Fresh Produce Association to create Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools.
“He played an integral role in helping us develop and launch the campaign as an official part of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative,” said Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health for United Fresh, in an e-mail. “Sam has cheered us on for four years as Lets Move Salad Bars to Schools expanded nationwide. Thanks to Sam’s leadership and commitment school salad bars are now recognized as an effective strategy to increase student’s fruit and vegetable consumption.”
At this year’s Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in Anaheim, Calif., Kass participated in a panel discussion about the Eat Brighter! campaign using Sesame Street characters to promote fruits and vegetables.
“What we are seeing is an incredible opportunity that is not going to come around again,” Kass said at the time.
“Sam has been an integral part of Let’s Move! from its very beginning — from discussions about children’s health around my kitchen table in Chicago, to setting the strategic vision of a national campaign in the White House, to spearheading efforts with the private sector across the country,” Michelle Obama said in the White House release.
“Sam leaves an extraordinary legacy of progress, including healthier food options in grocery store aisles, more nutritious school lunches, and new efforts that have improved how healthy food is marketed to our kids,” Obama said in the relese. “I wish Sam success in all his future endeavors, and I know he will continue to be a leader in the vitally important work to build a healthier country.”