First lady's healthy-kids director knows toll of poor diet
Debra 'Deb' Eschmeyer was jobless and near penniless but excited about heading to Ecuador with her husband as Peace Corps volunteers. Then everything changed.
Jeff, the high-school sweetheart she had recently married, was diagnosed in February 2004 with diabetes, a lifelong and potentially debilitating illness.
After getting over the shock, Eschmeyer realised that, while it was too late to stop her husband from getting the disease, other people could be helped by cleaning up their diets.
The Ohio native started a produce farm in her hometown of New Knoxville that offers fresh fruits and vegetables to about 100 families a week, through a community-supported agriculture program. She later co-founded an organisation that sends volunteers into underserved schools to plant gardens and overhaul school lunches.
Seven months ago, Eschmeyer's path led her to the White House. She's the senior policy adviser for nutrition policy and, perhaps more important, the newest executive director of Michelle Obama's five-year-old initiative to reduce childhood obesity.