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Food Policy in the White House Kitchen

November 17, 2009

NYT ArticleIn the Obama White House, there is a new source of perspective on food and public health policy- and it is coming from the kitchen. Sam Kass, the White House chef, is not only preparing meals for the first family, but also contributing to strategies on how to improve the health of the country’s citizens- and food supply.  Sam Kass offers a fresh perspective on food, from the plate to policy, and is an exciting addition the administration.

Sam Kass Garden

The New York Times recently recognized Kass’s important and unique role of assistant White House chef and food initiative coordinator. Kass, 29, began as a private chef for the Obamas two years before their move to Washington. Kass has worked closely with Mrs. Obama to launch the White House garden and farm to school programs.  According to the article, Kass “attends briefings on child nutrition and health, has vetted nonprofits as potential partners for White House food initiatives and regularly peppers senior staff on about policy matters.”

Walter Scheib, the executive chef during the Clinton and Bush administrations, has weighed in on Kass’s new role.  Scheib explained that “He has really been put in place for a different role, for advising the first lady, for being the face of the place.  It’s great that someone who is still physically in the kitchen, chopping, dicing, roasting, physically cooking, not just talking cooking, would be part of that discussion.”

sam kassIn an interview, Kass shared his perspective on food, “You look around our country and you see that we have a lot of major challenges, the origin of which is food.  It’s not a big step to think about what I am doing? How is that affecting this problem? How am I helping? Cooking for people’s pleasure if obviously a nice thing to do, but the No. 1 reason we eat is to nourish ourselves and take care of ourselves.”   

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