This little garden will live on as a symbol of the hopes that we all hold of growing a healthier nation for our children
The garden’s size has grown from an original 1,100 square feet to 2,800 square feet
The garden has been a powerful symbol of her efforts to promote healthy eating and lifestyles for America’s children, formalized as the Let’s Move initiative in 2010
October 8, 2016: Michelle Obama would like her legacy to be as well rooted at the White House as that of her president husband.
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And a big part of that is the White House kitchen garden where the first lady was joined by students from across the country Thursday for the last harvest of the Obama era.
“This little garden will live on as a symbol of the hopes that we all hold of growing a healthier nation for our children,”’ Obama told a crowd gathered at the garden. “I am hopeful that future first families will cherish this garden like we have, and that it will become one of our enduring White House traditions.”
Looks like the first lady will get her wish.
The W. Atlee Burpee home gardening company and The Burpee Foundation have contributed $2.5 million to the National Park Foundation to maintain the garden for at least 17 years.
The garden’s size has grown from an original 1,100 square feet to 2,800 square feet. It has a new wooden arbor for an entrance, wider bluestone walkways, and wooden tables and benches.
There’s also an inscribed stone that reads: “White House Kitchen Garden, established in 2009 by First Lady Michelle Obama with the hope of growing a healthier nation for our children.”
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Obama recalled the initial doubts she had about the garden.
“What if we just got a few sad little tomatoes and a bunch of weeds?” she recalled Thursday.
But the garden thrived from the beginning, with help from White House chefs and National Park groundskeepers. Fresh greens from the backyard would soon find their way to china plates at state dinners as well as local soup kitchens.
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Over time, the first lady added beehives, a compost system, and a pollinators’ garden to attract birds and butterflies.
The garden has been a powerful symbol of her efforts to promote healthy eating and lifestyles for America’s children, formalized as the Let’s Move initiative in 2010.(VOA)
The Trump administration is considering more dramatic cuts to the U.S. refugee program, with one official suggesting the White House not allow any refugees into the country in the coming fiscal year.
In a Politico report released Thursday, government officials from several federal agencies attended a meeting last week and discussed several options that included a ceiling of 10,000 — well below the current refugee ceiling of 30,000, which is already an all-time low for the program.
The U.S. resettled 23,190 refugees since the beginning of fiscal 2019 last October. With 2½ months remaining until the count resets, the U.S. is on track to fall short of this year’s cap, according to U.S. State Department data.
Since the so-called “refugee ceiling” is an upper limit, and not a quota, the government is not required to meet the annual admissions number.
Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief, one of the primary refugee resettlement nongovernmental organizations in the U.S., said he has heard multiple figures proposed for the coming fiscal year, all well below the program’s historical annual threshold of around 60,000 to 70,000.
In President Barack Obama’s last year two years in office, his administration made a concerted effort to increase the number of admitted refugees, with a particular focus on Syrians fleeing conflict and persecution.
And since the U.S. president is the one who ultimately makes the final decision when it comes to the number of refugee admissions, President Donald Trump has leeway to further reduce the total allowed.
“The president hasn’t made an actual decision, that won’t happen till October. But I suspect they’re testing the waters a bit to see if, in fact, the public will respond to this, and if there will be any public outrage,” Arbeiter told VOA. “So it is a proposed number, it is not a final number, but a number anywhere between zero, and we’ve heard 3,000, 7,000 10,000, but anywhere in that range, what it effectively does is it closes the door on refugees, and effectively constitutes a total ban on refugees.”
Earlier ban attempts
Trump repeatedly attempted a ban on refugees with multiple executive orders on travel during his first year in office, citing “national security” concerns. Those worries, however, were not substantiated by data and no scientific study demonstrates a correlation between refugee admissions and elevated crime or security risks.
Each year, the president makes an annual determination, after appropriate consultation with Congress, regarding the refugee admissions ceiling for the following fiscal year. That determination is expected to be made before the start of fiscal 2020 on Oct. 1, 2019.
The U.S. State Department is one of the leading agencies involved in the deliberation process with the White House over refugee admissions. In an emailed statement Friday, a spokesperson reiterated the president makes the decision on the ceiling every year “after appropriate consultation with Congress.”
Beyond that, however, the spokesperson said the State Department would “not discuss internal and interagency deliberations or communications involved in such deliberations.” Last year, however, the White House was criticized by members of Congress after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the fiscal 2019 cap would be 30,000, before the legally required meetings with Capitol Hill lawmakers happened. (VOA)