On February 9, 2010 First Lady Michelle Obama announced a nationwide campaign called Let’s Move! to mobilize public and private sector resources to reach the goal to confront and resolve the challenge of childhood obesity.
The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge is a recipe contest for children across the country launched by Epicurious to support healthy child nutrition in the United States. Contest winners are announced by the White House, Epicurious, PBS flagship station WGBH Boston, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Education.
In support of Let’s Move!, The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and Kids’ State Dinner invites a parent or guardian to work with their child ages 8-12 to create a healthy and delicious lunchtime recipe.
- August 20, 2012: As part of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the first-ever Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House, greeting 54 guest chefs between the ages of 8 and 12 to a formal luncheon in the East Room. The guests represented all U.S. states, three territories and the District of Columbia.
Winning selections served at the lunch included a Quinoa, Black Bean, and Corn Salad (created by Haile Thomas, 11, Arizona); Strawberryana Smoothie (created by Stefani Shimomura-Sakamoto, 11, Hawaii; and Yummy Cabbage Sloppy Joes, (created by Rori Coyne, 12, of Kansas).
President Obama surprised the gathering by stopping by briefly. He told them: “Look, let’s face it, I don’t cook that often these days. But I remember cooking and it’s not always easy to make something that people like to eat. Then for you guys to actually come up with recipes that are healthy and tasty, and to do it in a way that helps to contribute to spreading the word about healthy eating among your peers—that’s a really big deal.”
- July 9, 2013: In an effort to commend healthy and delicious lunchtime dishes, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the second Kids’ State Dinner at the White House featuring winning recipes in the national Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. In celebration of the event, colorful balloon animals covered tables in the Grand Foyer.
The first lady told the guests and their parents or guardians: “This is what it’s like to be a part of an official state dinner. We mirrored it exactly to what people experience when we host world leaders here.”
When President Obama made an appearance, he teased, “Usually, at a state dinner, I get invited, so I don’t know what happened on this one. I hear the food is pretty good.”
Winning selections served at the lunch included Nummy No-Noodle Lasagna (created by amber Kelley, 10, of Washington state); Pan Seared Mississippi Catfish on a Bed of River Rice (created by reed Lindsey, 10, of Mississippi); and a Zucchini Pancakes and Passion Fruit Banana Smoothie (created by Sakari Clendinen, 8, of the U.S. Virgin Islands).
After lunch, recipe winners heard a performance by 15-year-old singer Rachel Crow and received a tour of the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn.
- July 18, 2014: First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the third annual Kids’ State Dinner, featuring winners from all U.S. states, three territories, and the District of Columbia who had created nourishing and tasty recipes. President Obama stopped by on a surprise visit and revealed his family nutritional weaknesses:
“Malia, ice cream. I mean, basically, it’s very hard for her to turn down ice cream. But she has learned to kind of control herself when it comes to ice cream. … Sasha … She pretty much takes dessert whenever she can. … Pie. She’s like me. My big thing: chips and guacamole. … And the first lady: french fries.”
The first lady responded, “I’m going to say this. I’m making a vow: I’m going to take a break from french fries.”
Winning recipes included Amazing African Sweet Potato Stew (created by Sarah Ganser, 12, of Wisconsin); Quinoa Lentil Burgers with Kale Slaw (created by Yonah de Graaf, 10, of Massachusetts); and “What! You Don’t Like Tofu?” Stir Fry (created by Chloe Long, 10, of Montana).
Every winning chef walked down a red carpet surrounded by oversize balloon flowers into the State Dining Room. An unexpected treat for the guests and their parents or guardians was a performance by the Broadway cast of “The Lion King.”
- July 10, 2015: Announcing the 2015 winners, the first lady said, “Reading over these winning recipes [for the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge], two things become very clear. America’s kids are passionate about not just eating healthy food, but about cooking healthy food, too. And we’re raising some truly inventive and talented chefs.”
Guests and their parents or guardians at the Kids’ State Dinner enjoyed recipes such as Corn and Turkey Meatball Lentil Soup with Whole-Wheat Pita Chips (created by Ana Bernazzani, 8, of New Hampshire); Couscous Salad with Chicken, Artichoke, and Lemon Skewers and Tangy Texas Tzatziki (created by Jianna Garcia, 10, of Texas); and Rainbow Taco with Mic-Kale Obama Slaw and Barack-amole (created by Aria Pelaez, 9, of California).
President Obama, in brief remarks to the group, said, “I also just wanted to let you know that although I can’t stay and eat right now, that I’ve looked over the menu, and the food looks outstanding. I particularly am impressed with the Barackamole. So I’m expecting people to save me a little sampling of the Barackamole.”
The guests received a surprise performance by selected members of the cast of Disney’s “Aladdin” who traveled from New York City to perform at the state dinner.