First Lady Michelle Obama was one of 10 people selected today for the James Beard Foundation’s inaugural Leadership Awards, handed out to activists, educators and business leaders who help create a “healthier, safer and more sustainable food world,” according to a release.
Others leaders singled out for the award include Will Allen , the basketball player turned urban farmer, and Alice Waters , the proprietor of Chez Panisse and a pioneer in the local food movement. (The complete list of winners is after the jump.)
The 10 recipients were selected by an advisory board that included chefs Dan Barber and Rick Bayless as well as nutritionist Marion Nestle and former USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, Gus Schumacher. They chose the recipients based on their “excellence of work, innovation in approach and scale of impact within a community or the nation,” according to the release.
The first lady is best known for leading the Let’s Move! campaign, aimed at tackling childhood obesity in America. But she’s also been instrumental in working with the business community to introduce healthier foods to underserved neighborhoods, whether with the Wal-Mart initiative in January or with the food deserts campaign in July. She has also inspired countless backyard gardeners with her own White House garden.
The recipients will be honored on Oct. 12 during the second annual James Beard Foundation Food Conference in New York City.
The honorees, according to the press release:
* Will Allen, founder and president, Rainbow Farmer’s Cooperative and Founder and CEO of Growing Power: For his lifelong work as a farmer and community activist dedicated to supporting low-income and small family farmers who bring healthy, affordable food to urban areas.
* Fedele Bauccio, CEO, Bon Appétit Management Company: For his commitment to quality food and socially responsible food sourcing.
* Debra Eschmeyer, co-founder and program director, FoodCorps: For addressing the issues of childhood obesity and diet-related disease through school lunch programs with the National Farm to School Network and her leadership of FoodCorps’ innovative programming.
* Sheri L. Flies, assistant general merchandise manager, Corporate Foods, Costco Wholesale Corporation: For her work on the Juan Francisco Project, which assessed the sustainability of the existing supply chain for French beans in Guatemala and determined how it affects the lives of farmers and their families, and for playing a key role in Costco’s efforts to integrate sustainable practices in its buying decisions.
* Jan Kees Vis, global director, Sustainable Sourcing Development, Unilever: For his work in creating the Sustainable Living Plan at Unilever with clear goals of reducing waste, water use, and GHG emissions by 50% and achieving 100% sustainable sourcing by 2020, and for his industry-wide leadership in the Palm Oil Roundtable.
* Fred Kirschenmann, distinguished fellow, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University and president of the Board of Directors, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture: For his lifelong work on sustainable food and farming systems.
* First Lady Michelle Obama: For launching Let’s Move!, a comprehensive initiative dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation.
* Janet Poppendieck, author and professor of sociology at Hunter College, City University of New York, and at the CUNY Graduate Center: For bringing issues of poverty, hunger, and food assistance to the forefront through her teaching and books, such as Sweet Charity? Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement and Free For All: Fixing School Food in America.
* Alice Waters, chef, author, and the proprietor of Chez Panisse:For her pioneering use of sustainable and local ingredients in food service and for the Chez Panisse Foundation’s work in creating the Edible Schoolyard program.
* Craig Watson, vice president of Sustainable Agriculture, Sysco Corporation: For his work to improve sustainable agriculture and integrated pest management (IPM) practices for Sysco’s food products; programs that have impacted over 921,000 acres of agriculture land.