Mrs. Obama tackles food deserts, raises funds

October 25, 2011 (CHICAGO)

First stop on her agenda was to promote the availability of fresh produce in neighborhoods with few or no grocery stores. Then it was time to think about her husband's re-election campaign. The first lady attended a fundraiser Tuesday night before leaving town.

Her trip to Chicago focused on healthy foods, but her final stop was to give her husband's campaign a healthy boost. Mrs. Obama was the guest of honor at a West Loop fundraiser. She left the Chicago Journeymen Plumber's Union Hall after a speech that roused the crowd

"Michelle Obama is just an amazing woman, and I'm incredibly proud of her," said one attendee.

"She just gave a great speech, really motivating," said another attendee.

The fundraiser was the last stop in Chicago for the first lady. Most of her day was devoted to promoting healthy foods.

Walgreens has begun carrying fresh produce in some neighborhoods called food deserts, where there is a lack of healthy food options. Mrs. Obama started her day at a Walgreens on 75th Street in Chatham. The first lady was moved by one customer who is diabetic and credited the new healthy food for saving her life.

"I'm thrilled to be at home. I'm so glad we're doing this here at home, in Chicago," she said.

Mrs. Obama has championed healthier eating and healthier living in order to combat childhood obesity. The first lady recalled growing up on the South Side and seeing healthy food options dwindle.

"Think about what it means when our children - all of our children - finally get the nutrition they need to grow up healthy," she said.

The first lady also visited Bridgeport's Iron Street Farm, part of Growing Power, an organization that grows produce for city residents and promotes urban farming. The first lady even pulled a worm from the urban farm's compost.

"It is amazing she is interested in seeing what we are doing and coming here to just recognize the urban agriculture and how important this is in our country," said Erika Allen, Growing Power.

Mrs. Obama is encouraging efforts to make it easier for all Americans to get good nutrition no matter where they live.

"We can talk all we want about making healthy choices about the food we serve our kids. But the truth is if parents don't have anywhere to buy these foods, then all of that is really just talk," said Mrs. Obama.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that more stores will offer produce in Chicago's food deserts. With those stores come jobs. He expects 2,000 new jobs from the expansion.

A late tweet Tuesday night said that Mrs. Obama made one more stop by the campaign headquarters on her way back to DC.

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