Michelle Obama continues fed-appreciation tour with USDA visit

US First Lady MichelleObama speaks about the Joining Forces hiring initiative for military veterans and spouses on April 30. (Saul Loeb/AFP-Getty). Michelle Obama speaks about the Joining Forces hiring initiative for military veterans and spouses on April 30. (Saul Loeb/AFP-Getty).

Michelle Obama made another stop on her informal thank-you tour of federal agencies, arriving at the United States Department of Agriculture Friday morning to praise a department that has been a close partner on her initiatives.

“I’m here to just thank you … for the terrific work …for supporting our farmers, our ranchers,” she said. She also thanked the 500 federal workers who filled the auditorium for protecting the environment, for lifting up rural communities, keeping food safe and working to end hunger.

She mentioned the White House garden, which she said is “really pretty, it’s beautiful now.”

“It rained a couple of days, thank you,” she said, smiling. “The garden helped spark a conversation in this country about healthy eating that led us to create ‘Let’s Move.’ All of you all at USDA have been such a critical part of this effort right from the very start.”

And Obama called the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which changed school lunches, “one of the best legacies we can leave our children,” while acknowledging the sometimes unfavorable reviews the changes have received.

Obama said she hopes the lunches are not only nutritious but “delicious. … We are working on that …yes indeed.”

She was joined on stage by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and 11 USDA employees. Obama praised Vilsack, who has served in the administration for more than four years, as “loyal, dependable, honest.”

Vilsack returned the favor. When he introduced Obama, he suggested that her portrait be placed on display in the department along with his own and that of the President.

The audience cheered, but the first lady nixed the idea.

“We won’t do that,” she said.

For more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Krissah Thompson began writing for The Washington Post in 2001. She has been a business reporter, covered presidential campaigns and written about civil rights and race. More recently, she has covered the first lady's office, politics and culture.
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