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30/08/2014

Obama to Attend Chef's Wedding Amid Scrutiny of 'Let's Move' Program

Sandwiched between high-end fundraisers, President Barack Obama plans to travel to upstate New York to attend the wedding of MSNBC host Alex Wagner and Sam Kass, the Obamas' personal chef and a driving force behind the first lady's efforts to overhaul the nation's nutrition policy, Politicoreports.

Obama's attendance at Kass' wedding comes amid increased scrutiny of the administration's efforts, particularly the Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign.

The relationship between the Obamas and Kass, who serves as senior policy adviser on nutrition, began in Chicago and continued in the White House, where he has joined the first lady on several of her major initiatives, including the White House vegetable garden.

A graduate of the University of Chicago with a degree in U.S. history, Kass joined the White House staff in 2009 as assistant chef to Executive Chef Cris Comerford and would be tapped to be the food initiative coordinator a year later, according to his biography on the White House website.

Image: Obama to Attend Chef's Wedding Amid Scrutiny of 'Let's Move' Program
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Kass' father, a teacher at one of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, once taught Malia Obama, the eldest Obama daughter.

But it is his service as executive director of Michelle Obama's controversial "Let's Move" campaign where he has had the most impact.

The controversial campaign was launched in February 2010 with the goal of engaging "every sector impacting the health of children" to reduce childhood obesity and improve school nutrition programs.

Four years later, the program has achieved its goal of expanding healthier choices in school cafeterias, but it also has posed additional challenges to school districts and has resulted in a decrease in student lunch participation.

"Despite efforts to promote healthier choices to students, schools are struggling with decreased student lunch participation," Diane Pratt-Heavner, a spokeswoman for the School Nutrition Association, told The New York Times.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says about 150 districts have dropped out of the program since the rules went into effect, Businessweek reports.

This week, the School Nutrition Association released findings from a survey of more than 1,100 school meal program operators across the nation, which found that schools are expanding their healthy choices, but are meeting a range of challenges related to the administration's food nutrition standards.

The survey found that 63 percent of districts have salad or produce bars, and just over half of schools (52 percent) serve locally sourced fruits and vegetables, which represents a 48 percent increase from 2011.

Among other key findings in the report, full-paid meal prices have increased since 2011 in all grade levels, with the average price for a full-paid lunch reaching $2.18 for elementary schools, $2.37 for middle schools, and $2.42 in high school.

The report found that the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act’s Paid Meal Equity mandate "is a primary driving force behind meal price increases, with 83 percent of those who increased full paid lunch prices in 2013-14 attributing the increase to Paid Meal Equity requirements."

The program requires whole grain alternatives and smaller meat and grain portions.

A January Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found school lunch participation has experienced a decline since 2007, but the greatest decline — 10 percent — came in 2012-13, while the number of students receiving free meals has been increasing. The GAO survey found 48 states said the new meal requirements set by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act directly affected student participation in the program.

"Despite school menu enhancements and creative marketing efforts, school meal programs nationwide are struggling with a decline in student lunch participation. US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data shows that under the new standards, lunch participation is down in 49 states, with more than 1 million fewer students choosing school lunch each day," the association reports.

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05:40 Publié dans wedding | Tags : wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

28/08/2014

MiGreatPlaces: World War II Wedding in Historic Village

Historic Village in Houghton Lake. A place meant to tell stories.

"We have a country store, a doctor's office, a pharmacy, a barber shop, a carriage house, a chapel..."

But this village, meant to depict a 1890's lumber community, got quite a gift. A trunk from a local business owner.

Agnes, President of the Historical Society explains, "This trunk contained all sorts of wedding memorabilia and the dress and the vale and the cake top and the bouquet and invitations and cards of a couple that was married in April of 1944. The gentlemen was in the US Army and they were married while he was on leave because he was being shipped to the Pacific."

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The trunk was full of memories between Virgil and Dolores Blackburn of Bay City. Some happy, some sad.

"And everything surrounding his death and his wedding were left in this trunk." Including the letter no military family wants. This one from one of the most famous names of World War II.

"A letter signed by General Douglas MacArthur. A condolence letter to the family. There's a lot of materials relative to War Department correspondence and their letters going back and forth. It's a wonderful treasure that we hold for them."

"I was up getting ready for work and we get the Restorer on Thursday and I read the first picture on the bottom and I saw my mom's name and I was like 'Oh my gosh!' I went to work that day and I was telling everybody, "I saw this stuff on my mom there's this story about this World War II couple and he went off to war and died and didn't come back," and it ended up being my mom," said Therese.

It turns out Dolores' daughter, Therese, and one of her sons lives in Houghton Lake. Through circumstances that aren't important anymore, she accidentally lost the trunk and these memories.

"They were high school sweethearts and he got asked by his friends to go into the war. I guess he didn't have to do the war thing because he was an only son."

Then, "they wanted to get married, and so they got married in April and it was over a weekend and then he had to leave for the war and then he never came back."

Virgil was killed in New Guinea. Some time went by and Dolores fell in love again. Married Edward Kusmierc and they had five children together.

But with this new find at Historic Village, Therese found a way to honor her mom and someone she never knew.

"She really did love Virgil so it was kind of mixed emotions all day long."

"During Village Days we have a opportunity for people to renew their vows in our historic chapel and very often they wear old fashion clothes but she chose to renew her vows in her mother wedding vale carrying the train on her wedding vale were her two grand daughters," said Agnes.

"We didn't know until we got back but they put her cake topper on top of the cake."

Fitting, a World War II soldier and his bride and a trunk full of memories reunited after 70 years.

"It's a part of history and it's a part of, kind of a small homage to her. Hopefully she's up there looking down and enjoying it."

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05:12 Publié dans wedding | Tags : wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

26/08/2014

112 WEDDINGS

‘I’m going to devote the rest of my life to you.’ That’s kind of insane.’ A wedding, as Dennis suggests, is not a marriage. Director Doug Block made a living filming the nuptials of total strangers, and after amassing an incredible 112 of these gigs, he was finally sufficiently overcome with wondering about what happened to these couples in the years since their weddings that he decided to make a film about it. A wedding video is, of course, private, so only 11 couples agreed to appear, dissolving the preserved romantic nostalgia of the archive footage we see of their unions. While their situations are all vastly different, the singularity of the wedding ‘event’ and its estrangement from the reality of the life that follows is something clear for them all.

112 Weddings 2
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Wedding vows are designed to be an aspiration, an ideal to live up to; our culture romanticises this union as the apex of love, with a wedding often the triumphant climax to a romantic comedy, with all of the tangles of a relationship dealt with before this grand culmination of the power of love. Even if a romantic comedy has successfully presented realistic, engaging characters, the wedding reduces them to the plastic figures on top of the cake; they become emblems of everlasting love. What we see as Block revisits these couples is how the basic individuality of the human existence affects these marriages in completely unpredictable ways.

He finds Danielle crippled by depression, her husband Adam helplessly devoted to a woman who so often cannot connect with her husband. David shows Block his anti-depressant collection; as the camera sits with him, his outlandish, self-mocking personality gives way to the acres of pain and hurt inside, as he reflects on the dissolution of his marriage to Janet (who chose not to appear). Block essentially pieces together a collection of short stories about the difficulty of adult life; the lie of a wedding being that a marriage will balm all these pains because of the person you’ve chosen to be with. 112 Weddings explores both this lie and the possibility of its truth; most of the couples featured are still together, and despite the issues they’ve been through, it is often their love that has, cornily enough, kept them together.

Block’s approach to the couples is remarkably relaxed, and they seem largely at ease with discussing what are often deeply personal memories. He winds in footage of their wedding videos with gentle irony, giving an audience access to private moments in both time periods. Hearing people so openly and emotionally analyse their lives and relationship is an almost perturbing experience; like the finest documentaries, 112 Weddings reveals the brutal truth of the world we live in. But this is by no means a damning indictment of the concept of marriage; the joy and warmth of those days is still evident in the archive footage, and even in an unexpected boon Block happened upon in the present.

Janice and Alexander didn’t legally marry when Doug filmed them 13 years ago, instead undergoing a ‘partnership ceremony’ – all the trappings of an expensive and elaborate wedding, but without the legal documentation of a wedding certificate. When Block contacted them, the practicalities of their lives with their children had led them to plan a small, homebound wedding ceremony, which they allow Block to film. Even in this small, intimate, familial atmosphere, a hug instead of a kiss to seal the vows, the scene crystallises what makes a wedding something that so many people value. It is the ideal of love captured in one moment, and if there’s one thing that keeps the human race going, it’s that idea that we might find that love ourselves one day.

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05:09 Publié dans wedding | Tags : wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)