“There has been no formal announcement of anything yet,” her spokeswoman said.
Last week, first lady Melania Trump went to a middle school in a Detroit suburb to promote #NoOneEatsAlone — an initiative that encourages kids to include new peers at lunch. It was a nice event that attracted all sorts of warm attention from the media and only a small protest.
It was also a little unexpected: The nonprofit that created the campaign learned about the visit along with everyone else.
“We were very surprised to see our hashtag being promoted by the First Lady’s office,” said Laura Talmus, executive director of Beyond Differences, which designed the No One Eats Alone program. Talmus co-founded the organization with her husband, who happens to have served as state director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential primary campaign in California, Texas and North Carolina.
Still, Talmus welcomes the opportunity to work with anyone who is “serious about making a difference among middle-school children.” That means “every day of the year, not just once,” she added.
So, how did Melania Trump learn about the campaign? “Doing research for her initiatives,” explained Stephanie Grisham, her spokeswoman, in an email to HuffPost. “She knew the school participated in such a program and wanted to make the visit in order to learn more and also shine a light on the importance of kindness and inclusion.”
News outlets were quick to suggest that Trump’s school visit is a sign that her plan to combat cyberbullying is, at long last, steaming ahead. (“Melania resumes doomed effort to curb her husband’s favorite pastime,” is how Vanity Fair put it in a headline.)
But that is not exactly the case. The first lady has “visited many schools,” Grisham said, “so the visit in Michigan should in no way be characterized as a ‘bullying prevention campaign.’”
As for the anti-bullying initiative itself, nothing has been announced yet, according to Grisham. “We are not discussing these kinds of details at this time,” she replied to a question about whether the first lady’s office plans to follow up with Beyond Differences about No One Eats Alone. But, she added, the office looks “forward to announcing her formal platform in the coming months.”
We are not discussing these kinds of details at this time, but look forward to announcing her formal platform in the coming months.
More than eight months into the Trump administration, it’s anyone’s guess what that platform might look like. For context, former first lady Michelle Obama announced she was going to plant a vegetable garden in order to educate children about health in March 2009, a couple months after her husband’s inauguration. Not long after, she invited students to the White House to draw attention to the issue. However, she did not officially launch her signature “Let’s Move” campaign, combating childhood obesity, until February 2010.