Part II of Gayle King’s interview with former first lady Michelle Obama. You can catch Part I by clicking here.
“If you want to be great chefs, you have to learn about all kinds of different foods.”
That’s just one of the messages behind Michelle Obama’s Netflix show, “Waffles +Mochi.” The series teaches kids the value of healthy eating, and features key themes of diversity and inclusion, as puppets Waffles and Mochi travel the globe and learn about new culinary traditions.
Along the way, Waffles and Mochi are guided by their mentor, a supermarket manager, played by – you guessed it – Michelle Obama.
“After I read the concept, I thought, this is going to be so good,” she told “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King. “So, I wanted to be a part of it. But it’s funny – “
“But you didn’t have to be,” said King.
“I didn’t have to be. But, you know, I ask the question. It’s like, look, I don’t want to be Mrs. O., if there’s a better Mrs. O out there.”
“Who’s a better Mrs. O?”
“But I had to tell them, Gayle, I am not an actor. So, I was like, don’t give me a bunch of lines. So, it was fun because I could be impromptu, and working with ‘Waffles + Mochi,’ I love the fact that we’re also trying to find a purpose in it, because that’s still something that’s important to me.
“It sends a message beyond food and fun. You know, there’s always a theme about love and acceptance and openness. It’s just a gentle reminder to young kids. We want to teach them this rare gift of empathy.”
And now, that mission continues with the former first lady’s “Pass the Love” initiative. Waffles and Mochi have teamed up with the Partnership For A Healthier America to provide meal kits to families in need, inspired by recipes from the show. And today, Mrs. Obama is announcing the first target cities.
“We looked at cities where there was need,” she said. “And many of our urban areas have been struggling under COVID. So, we could have gone to any city. But Atlanta and Cleveland were sort of primed for this partnership. And we want to bring attention to the fact that in 2021 – is that what year it is?”
“Yeah, I know. I know,” laughed King.
“That people are still hungry in one of the richest nations on Earth.”
“And what will you do with them?”
“We’re going to provide one million meals to families in need, all across the country,” Obama said. “So, they’re going to get little food packages that are Waffles + Mochi specials, where they’ll have the ingredients and the recipes. Easy, affordable. They get it free. But they also find out that they can go back to the stores and do this again. And all these meal kits are going to be healthy, so that all families can follow along with the recipes.”
King said, “My children are now 34 and 35. And I wish, you know, cooking is not my forte. I look at how they were raised on Spaghetti-Os, fish sticks, tater tots. And if I had a regret about parenting, that would be it.”
“But we were growing up, we were raising our kids in a different time. You know, when we didn’t know that all the quick, fast options were not that healthy, we didn’t know that. So, that’s why the education piece is important. Because we can’t beat ourselves up for stuff we didn’t know. And now, more and more families understand this. And they also can see that they can cook an affordable meal quickly. Save money and time.”
In the years since her family left the White House, Mrs. Obama could have taken some well-earned time off, but she told King she doesn’t take for granted the reach of her voice and the unique platform of a former first lady.
“I’m 57,” she said. “Barack will be 60 this year. We still have a lot of life left. And so to sit by, you know, when you see all the need and all the stuff that needs to be done, we still feel like we have a responsibility to be engaged in this planet. I mean, I’m still not working at the pace I was working. I still have more freedom to do the things that I want. I’m knitting now!”
“You’re knitting? That sounds, no disrespect, but it sounds very ‘old lady,'” said King.
“But, you know, it’s sort of me. Because I like creating something out of nothing. It’s not old lady! I don’t want you to come for my knitting community, Gayle!” she laughed. “Don’t get me started, because I don’t want people to get bored with my little knitting. I made Barack a sweater, a crew neck sweater that he loves.”
Has he worn it? “He will,” she laughed. “It was finished when it got a little warmer. So, it’s ready for him. I made halter tops for Malia and Sasha that they love.”
“There’s something special about that,” said King. “To know that Mom made this for me.”
“Yes. It is good. It’s good. So, the point being is that, there’s time to do it all. There’s still plenty of time to continue to work on issues that matter, without sort of being in the middle of it. And let me tell you, it helps to have our President Joe Biden in office. Because, you know, when you have a responsible, mature president in office, it makes it even easier for us to move on to the next phases of the work that we do. Because we’re not sitting and worrying every day about what’s gonna happen next.
“There’s still plenty of time to do some good,” she said.