First Lady Makes San Diego Stop

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Long after the streets of Chollas Creek were lined with no parking signs and security teams got into place, first Lady Michelle Obama arrived in San Diego.

    The community spent most of the day getting ready for the VIP visit from Obama, who will be in San Diego on Thursday afternoon, stopping in the small community just east of Balboa Park.

    Wearing a cream sweater with gray slacks, the crowd enthusiastically welcomed Obama.

    "All right, you all are crazy," said the first lady when she first rose to address the audience, who spoke after briefly touring the New Roots Community Farm before sharing a stage with local children and Dr. Robert Ross, who is the president and CEO of the California Endowment, one of the nation's largest health foundations. Along with the first lady, he was on hand to announce the endowment's Building Healthy Communities Initiative and its partnership with Let's Move. 

    The Chollas Creek project fits well with Obama's campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation by improving nutrition, encouraging healthy eating and making fresh food affordable in all communities.

    The campaign is supported in California by the Building Healthy Communities initiative, which targets 14 areas -- including City Heights -- across the state "with significant, strategic, and sustained investments to transform these underserved communities into healthy communities," according to the first lady's media office.

    "As much as I love Washington," Obama said, "there's nothing I like better than getting out of Washington."

    She then went on to praise the people who had organized the thriving farm.

    "They're doing a fabulous job," said the first lady.

    Obama told the crowd that she understood that it's not always easy to do the right thing for their families.

    "Many families can't afford the foods they need .... many families feel the deck is stacked against them," said the first lady.

    Obama also discussed the issue of "food deserts," saying her goal was to bring grocery stores and farmer's markets to communities where there are no supermarkets with high-quality, low-cost food choices available to the members of the communities.

    The first lady said the 80 refugee farmers taking part in the farm, many from war-torn countries like Somalia, recognized the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables available to many Americans and did something about it.

    For residents, the first lady's visit was the biggest thing to ever happen in the neighborhood.

    "I think it's amazing," said neighbor Evelyn Rodriguez. "It's pretty cool."

    The 2.5 acre  New Roots Community Farm is a place where community members grow their vegetables and feed their families.

    "They're supporting healthier living for the kids and for our future," Rodriguez said.

    At about noon on Thursday, one person described the scene as a "rock star atmosphere." Those living across the street from the garden invited friends and family members to their homes. Many of them camped out on the front lawns, waiting for Obama to arrive.

    "I'm so excited," said Helen Jennings who lives right across the street from the garden. "I can't get over how excited I am." 

    Obama was expected to arrive right in front of Jenning's house. She said she's going to ask the first lady inside for coffee. 

    "It's a great day for us in this community,"  Robert Carter said. "We've been real excited, everyone. "

    Neighbors said they appreciate Obama's support of their garden, which they said has changed lives. 

    Obama's visit follows a week of travel that included a tour of earthquake-ravaged Haiti and a stop in Mexico to launch an agenda about inspiring young people around the world to become involved in their societies.