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Kids' "State Dinner": Celebrating Healthy Cooking at the White House

Posted by Shelley Maniscalco, MPH, RD, Director, Office of Nutrition Marketing and Communication, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion in Food and Nutrition Initiatives
Feb 21, 2017
Menu from the Kids’ “State Dinner”
Menu from the Kids’ “State Dinner” featured healthy, MyPlate-inspired recipes by talented kid-chefs.

Don’t let the name fool you; attending the Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House is an exciting experience for both kids and adults alike.  As a nutritionist with the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, I had the privilege of being both a judge and an attendee for the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a contest where young chefs-in-training practice creating their own MyPlate-inspired healthy recipes.  The winners of this competition are in turn honored on July 10 with a special invitation to the White House for the Kids’ “State Dinner” and I joined these talented, young chefs for an unforgettable experience.

Kids and their guardians participated in a welcome reception prior to getting their picture taken with the First Lady. Excitement, and the sweet smell of fresh produce, was certainly in the air! However, it wasn’t just the recipes at the “State Dinner” that were inspired by MyPlate—even the centerpieces were created by using a variety of fruits and vegetables!

Colorful bouquets of fresh veggies and fruit
Colorful bouquets of fresh veggies and fruit added a magical touch to the event.

Then the dinner began.  The winners sat together at long tables, where they were served dishes from six different states.  While they ate, they heard from one of the 2014 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winners, the First Lady, and yes, even the President of the United States! He stated he was looking forward to sampling the “Barack-amole.”

The East Room of the White House during the Kids’ “State Dinner”
A peek inside the East Room of the White House during the Kids’ “State Dinner.”

A foam hand awaited guests at their seat as a fun reminder of the First Lady’s #GimmeFive challenge. This challenge was part of the fifth anniversary of Let’s Move! and encouraged Americans to #GimmeFive things they are doing to eat better, be more active, and lead healthier lives.  Everyone left with memories that will last a lifetime.

Let's Move foam hand
The #GimmeFive challenge was incorporated into the décor and table settings.