The popular sandwich chain Subway is teaming up with First Lady Michelle Obama to promote nutritional meals for kids. According to reports from the Associated Press, Subway will spend $41 million over three years on a campaign to market healthy food to children. The chain will also bring its kids’ menu in line with the new federal nutritional standards for school lunches.
Obama announced the new initiative at a Subway shop in Washington, DC on Thursday. She praised the chain for not only working to improve its kids’ menus, but also putting marketing dollars behind its effort to get children to eat better.
Subway has traditionally positioned itself as a healthier option compared to other popular fast food franchises. Some of the chain’s sandwiches are certified by the American Heart Association. The man who has become the “face of Subway,” Jared Fogle, touts the fact that eating there helped him lose nearly 250 pounds. And last year, a review of the top 50 chain restaurants conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) found that Subway was the only one whose kids’ menus all met the USDA’s nutrition requirements.
“It’s a natural extension of what we do,” Subway’s chief marketing officer, Tony Pace, told the AP in reference to the new partnership with the first lady.
Throughout her signature campaign, “Let’s Move,” Obama has attempted to tackle childhood obesity rates from several angles. Although the first lady has been cautious about going after big food corporations, often emphasizing personal responsibility and fitness rather than wading into food regulation, there are some signs that she’s getting slightly more aggressive in this area. In September, she convened a White House summit to encourage food corporations to rethink the way they market their unhealthy products to children, encouraging them to come up with a wider range of nutritious options.
Conservatives, who have blasted Obama’s efforts to improve public school lunches as “the nanny state personified,” are equally displeased with her ventures into the private sector. “Get ready to see Michelle Obama’s face plastered all over your local Subway sandwich shop,” one right-wing blog laments.