The director of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative and President Obama’s personal chef from the time he was a senator is leaving the White House.
Sam Kass, an occasional golf partner of Obama’s as well, joined the first family in Hawaii last year during the holiday season. The Obamas attended his wedding in New York state this August.
Kass joined the White House as a chef from the moment the Obamas moved in, and was promoted to senior policy adviser for nutrition policy last year.
The office of the first lady said in a statement this morning that Kass will be leaving at the end of the month to live in New York full-time.
“His departure concludes a tenure of dedicated service not only to the First Family, but also to the Obama Administration as a key player in the development of nutrition policy,” the statement said. “…Kass will remain engaged with the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative and the continuing effort to advance childhood nutrition. His successor will be named in the new year.”
President Obama said Kass left an “indelible mark” on the White House by constructing their organic kitchen garden and “brewing our own Honey Brown Ale.”
“And with the work he has done to inspire families and children across this country to lead healthier lives, Sam has made a real difference for our next generation,” he added. “Over the years, Sam has grown from a close friend to a critical member of my team, and I am grateful for his outstanding work and look forward to seeing all that he will continue to achieve in the years ahead.”
Michelle Obama said Kass moved “from discussions about children’s health around my kitchen table in Chicago to setting the strategic vision of a national campaign in the White House.”
“Sam leaves an extraordinary legacy of progress, including healthier food options in grocery store aisles, more nutritious school lunches, and new efforts that have improved how healthy food is marketed to our kids,” she said.
Over the summer, Kass asked to speak at a conference of the School Nutrition Association but was rebuffed by the group’s leadership in the wake of clashes between the administration and school cafeterias on lunch standards and burdensome regulations.
“We didn’t feel [our members] wanted to hear the rallying call,” the CEO of the group told Politico at the time. “We felt it was best he not come.”