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The First Lady Addresses the School Nutrition Association

The First Lady addressed the School Nutrition Association's Legislative Action Conference on Monday to discuss the importance of school nutrition as part of the recently launched Let's Move campaign. Tens of millions of children receive more than half of their daily calories at school through school lunch and school breakfast programs.

The School Nutrition Association (SNA), which represents food service workers in more than 75 percent of the nation's schools, has joined the Let's Move campaign committing to increase education and awareness of the dangers of obesity among their members and the students they serve, and is ensuring that the nutrition programs in 10,000 schools meet HealthierUS School Challenge standards over the next five years.

Below is an excerpt of the First Lady's remarks from yesterday's event:

I know you may remember a time when kids in your schools led lives that kept most of them at a healthy weight. They walked to and from school, they ran around during recess and gym class, and they played outside for hours after school. Many could - kids ate home-cooked meals, and many had actually seen fruits and vegetables before you served them to them, so they didn't look at them like foreign objects when they got them at school. Fast food, soda and candy were special treats; they weren't part of every meal. And at lunchtime, in many schools, kids just had two choices: either what you served them, or what their mom or dad packed at home, whether they liked it or not.

But over the past few decades, we've seen these healthy habits falling away, replaced by habits of convenience and necessity. You know, parents want to buy healthy food for their kids, but they're sometimes tight on money and can't afford it. Or they're tight on time because they're juggling extra jobs, extra shifts, and they just can't swing those home-cooked meals anymore. Those walks to school have been replaced with buses or car rides. And as you know, gym class and school sports have been cut in so many places, replaced by afternoons with the TV, video games, and the Internet.

And those two reasonably healthy choices at lunchtime, they've become dozens of choices - some healthy and some not. That occurs as schools struggle to get the revenue that they need. From fast food, to vending machines packed with chips and candy, to à la carte lines, we tempt our kids with all kinds of unhealthy choices every day. And it's no surprise that they don't always pick the healthy ones.

And by now, I think it's clear that between the pressures of today's economy and the breakneck pace of modern life, the well-being of our kids has too often gotten lost in the shuffle.

But we have to be honest: Our kids didn't do this to themselves. You see, our kids don't decide what to serve - or what is sold at lunch. Our kids don't decide whether there's time for recess and gym. They don't decide whether they'll learn about healthy eating or nutrition at school. They don't make these decisions.

We set those priorities. We make those decisions. And even if it doesn't always feel like it, we are the ones in charge. But that's the good news - because if we make the decisions, then we can decide to solve this problem.

Read the First Lady's full remarks.