Atlanta Chef Marvin Woods helped First Lady Michelle Obama launch healthy initiatives

First Lady Michelle Obama is due in Georgia later this morning to help plant a garden at Burke County Middle School as part of the health and wellness initiatives she has championed throughout President Barack Obama’s time in office. Atlanta Chef Marvin Woods was key to kicking things off years ago.

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“The whole experience was amazing,” said Woods, a cookbook author, television personality and owner of Asante in downtown Atlanta.

He’d been part of the team to create the Obamas’ first state dinner and was later invited back to help spearhead Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. He was thrilled to participate and predicts a lasting positive impact.

“For her to pick this (as a platform issue), it’s huge. It’s a major shift in the food world, in the health world,” Woods said. “I truly believe if somebody is collecting data, that in 15 to 20 years you’re going to see a lower rate of childhood obesity, hypertension, diabetes – all the things that are very common when you have a poor diet.”

Woods proudly displays on his web site the thank you letter the First Lady sent:

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Woods, who grew up in New Jersey and remembers nibbling on tomatoes right off the vine, “like apples,” says kids who learn to love gardening develop a lifelong affinity for veggies.

“If you can change not only their eating habits but their mindset in a way where it’s not preaching but in a way that’s educational, informative, adventurous,” you’ve got healthy eaters for life, he said. He’s helped plant gardens outside several Atlanta schools and sees the young gardeners light up after their farm-to-table epiphanies.

“Even for the ones who may not have been excited initially, in six weeks’ time when you have a full grown plant, now they’re really excited,” he said.

The event with First Lady Michelle Obama is due to start about 11:15 a.m. Please check back for updates.

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