Certificate Presented in Washington, DC

First Lady Michelle Obama was honored for her work in promoting good nutrition and healthy lifestyles by the spouses of the United States Senate at a luncheon in Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 21. The spouses had chosen to plant a breadfruit tree in the McBryde Garden of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in her honor and extended an invitation on NTBG’s behalf to Mrs. Obama to come to the NTBG and turn the first shovel for the planting.

Irene Hirono, widow of the late Senator Daniel Inouye, had put NTBG’s name and the work of its Breadfruit Institute before a small committee that had been formed to select how the First Lady would be honored. Ms. Hirono also suggested a Hawaiian theme for the luncheon, having leis flown in from the Islands, and was present at the DC ceremony, along with Dr. Susan Blumenthal, wife of Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey. It was Dr. Blumenthal who worked directly with NTBG staff to craft the honor.

The certificate, which portrayed photos of breadfruit and children planting, as well as NTBG’s breadfruit logo, read:

“The Spouses of the U.S. Senate Planted a “Tree of Life”, Breadfruit, in honor of the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, at the National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i, in recognition of her leadership and commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles.”

“Breadfruit is a very special plant that nourished Pacific islanders for thousands of years. Over the past 3,000 years, hundreds of varieties of Breadfruit have been developed and cultivated. The National Tropical Botanical Garden, based in Hawai‘i, is now conserving these unique trees as part of their extensive Living Collections.”

“One of the most productive and nutritious varieties is the Ma‘afala. The fruit of this tree is an energy-rich, gluten-free carbohydrate food that is an excellent source of fiber and vitamins, plentiful in minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. It is also higher in protein than most breadfruit varieties. Through the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Breadfruit Institute’s Plant a Tree of Life project, thousands of Ma‘afala trees have been planted at homes, schools, churches, community gardens, parks, and other sites in Hawai‘i. Ma‘afala is also making an impact globally. More than 80% of the world’s one billion hungry people live in the tropics. More than 35,000 Breadfruit trees have been provided to 27 countries through the Garden’s Global Hunger Initiative to support sustainable agriculture and reforestation, and alleviate hunger and malnutrition.”

“Additionally, the Breadfruit and You Curriculum developed by the Garden’s Breadfruit Institute provides educational resources to schools in Hawai‘i planting Ma‘afala trees through the Plant a Tree of Life project. This initiative teaches children about the importance of good nutrition and physical activity which are components of the Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens goal to have children be more active, eat better, and grow up healthy.”

“The Spouses of the U.S. Senate have provided a donation in honor of First Lady Michelle Obama to support the Global Hunger Initiative. The contribution will also support the Breadfruit and You Curriculum and the project that brings underserved schoolchildren in Hawai‘i to the National Tropical Botanical Garden to learn about healthy lifestyles through sustainable gardening and farming.”


Distributed photo supplied by Dr. Susan Blumenthal:

First Lady Michelle Obama accepts the certificate prepared by NTBG. Vicki Risch, wife of Idaho Senator James Risch, and Dr. Susan Blumenthal, wife of Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey, are at right. Ms. Irene Hirono is seated in the foreground.

National Tropical Botanical Garden (www.ntbg.org) is a not-for-profit, non-governmental institution with nearly 2,000 acres of gardens and preserves in Hawai‘i and Florida. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014, the institution’s mission is to enrich life through discovery, scientific research, conservation, and education by perpetuating the survival of plants, ecosystems, and cultural knowledge of tropical regions. NTBG is supported primarily through donations and grants.

Media contacts: Janet L. Leopold, administration@ntbg.org, (808) 332-7324, ext. 213 or Jon Letman, jletman@ntbg.org, at National Tropical Botanical Garden Headquarters

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