Kid Chefs at the White House
The first-ever Kids’ State Dinner celebrates winners of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge
Michelle Obama hosted the event, which celebrated healthy recipes created by kids, such as Marshall Reid, above. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Images)
State Dinners at the White House are very fancy, formal events, usually reserved for diplomats, royalty, and leaders of nations. On Monday, however, 54 kids, ages 8 to 12, were invited to the first-ever Kids’ State Dinner, which honored the winners of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.
To compete in the challenge, kids (with the help of their families) had to create an original lunchtime recipe that is “healthy, affordable, and delicious.” The meal also had to follow the nutritional guidelines of MyPlate, the guide to healthy eating that the U.S. government released in 2011.
One winner from each state, three territories, and Washington, D.C., attended. First Lady Michelle Obama told the winners and their parents that they were there because their recipes “truly stood out.”
“You came up with dishes that were packed with nutritious, delicious ingredients; dishes that are good for you, but more importantly, they taste good too,” Mrs. Obama said. “See? It can happen—healthy and tasty at the same time.”
The White House dinner (which took place at lunchtime) featured six of the winning recipes, including a quinoa, black bean, and corn salad created by 11-year-old Haile Thomas of Arizona.
“I was just experimenting and being creative in the kitchen,” Haile told reporters. “It’s just an honor. I never thought my recipe would go national.”
The menu also included kale chips, a burger-and-fries fake-out (cabbage sloppy joes and zucchini fries), and fruit smoothies.
President Barack Obama dropped by to congratulate the winners and ask everyone to be careful not to drop any leftovers, because the Obamas’ dog, Bo, is “on a diet.” The President kept his remarks short, though, because he said he didn’t want to delay the lunchtime entertainment—a concert by the band Big Time Rush.
The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge received more than 1,200 entries. Mrs. Obama said she and the panel of judges from food blogs, the Department of Education, and the Department of Agriculture did a lot of tasting to find the 54 winners.
The winning recipes have been collected in a cookbook. You can check it out and download it for free on LetsMove.gov.