Oprah Helps Chef Fulfill Michelle Obama Wish

Oprah Winfrey and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World Gala at Rose Hall - Jazz at Lincoln Center on May 5, 2009 in New York City Oprah Winfrey and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World Gala at Rose Hall - Jazz at Lincoln Center on May 5, 2009 in New York City

When Oprah Winfrey recently asked her former personal chef what he wanted for his 50th birthday, Art Smith’s first thought was a new treadmill.

Aim higher, she told him.

How about a check to help fund the sort of healthy eating programs for children called for by another of his high profile clients, first lady Michelle Obama, recently called for?

Done.

On Monday, during a party hosted by celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, Smith says he’ll formally announce the $250,000 donation from Winfrey to his Common Threads nonprofit.

“We’re going to educate a lot of children about taking care of themselves,” Smith said during an interview late Friday at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

“I’d like to take this money to create healthy programs for children that mirror the first lady’s program,” said Smith, who recently lost 90 pounds thanks to his own healthy eating reforms.

Earlier this month, Michelle Obama announced her “Let’s Move” campaign, an effort to teach children healthier eating habits and to get better foods into school lunch programs.

Smith’s program runs more than 20 afterschool programs around the country. The programs teach children how to cook healthy, ethnically diverse foods.

“What an amazing birthday present that I can share with so many friends,” Smith said.

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