Michelle Obama launches company to improve child nutrition

WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama announced Wednesday that she has co-founded a company to make and sell healthier foods and beverages for children, products she believes will be less harmful to their long-term health because of their low sugar content and their higher nutrient content.

The former first lady’s work with PLEZi Nutrition is an extension of her efforts to improve child nutrition when she was in the White House.

“I’ve learned that on this issue, if you want to change the game, you can’t just work from the outside,” she said during a keynote speech in New York at a conference on the future sponsored by the Wall Street Journal. . “You must come in. You have to find ways to change the food industry itself.

“So today, I’m proud to announce the national launch of a company designed not just to deliver better products, but to kick-start what I hope will be a race to the top that will transform the whole of food industry,” she said. .

Obama said she was co-founder and strategic partner of PLEZi Nutrition. She will work behind the scenes on her educational and philanthropic efforts, according to aides, who stressed she would not be a spokesperson or public face for the company. It was unclear if she had put in the money to help launch PLEZi Nutrition or if she would be on salary.

As first lady, Obama searched through a White House initiative called “Let’s Move” improve the health of American children by encouraging them to engage in physical activity and eat healthier foods. She worked to improve federal nutrition standards for school lunches and secured pledges from food companies and restaurant chains to reduce calories, salt, sugar and trans fats in their meals.

But she said on Wednesday children were still not getting recommended levels of nutrients and were eating and drinking too much added sugar, an average of 53 pounds a year. Sugary drinks are young people’s main source of added sugar, she said, adding that nearly two-thirds of them drink them every day.

PLEZi Nutrition, based in the District of Columbia, is a public benefit corporation, which means the for-profit company was created specifically for the benefit of the public and will balance its profit needs with its mission to help improve child nutrition.

Obama also announced that the company is donating $1 million to an initiative by FoodCorps, a nonprofit organization that works to help America’s 50 million college students receive nutrition education and free school meals by 2030. PLEZi Nutrition will also contribute 10% of its profits to the wider movement to improve child nutrition.

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