On July 9th, budding young chefs gathered at the White House for the Let’s Move! Kids’ State Dinner, hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, to celebrate their culinary accomplishments in the Epicurious “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge”. Let’s Move!, Epicurious, the U.S. Department of Education, and USDA collaborated on the challenge and honored the 54 finalists who created the winning recipes at last week’s celebration. Contestants were challenged to come up with healthy recipes using USDA’s MyPlate food icon for inspiration. The winning recipes reflected the appealing symbol, with healthy amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy.
I was honored to be USDA’s advisor and a judge for this year’s competition, and attend the Kids’ State Dinner with the winners. Here, at the USDA, we are proud to see this national example of how MyPlate is helping children make healthy choices when preparing and consuming food. Events such as this encourage other children to adopt good eating patterns and pursue healthy lifestyles.
The young chefs are truly role models for their peers, their families, and all Americans. Jackie Haven, Director of the Nutrition Marketing and Communication Division at CNPP, attended the 2013 Kids’ State Dinner with me and noted the kids’ involvement with social media. Haven said “The kids were taking photos of everything—President Obama, Mrs. Obama, the healthy lunches—so that they could post the pictures on social media or send to family and friends. Social media allows these kids to share their recipes, healthy inspiration, and experience as a Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winner with a much larger community. It’s amazing!” In addition to the kids’ contributions, many local and regional media outlets helped to elevate the event and the kids became local celebrity chefs. Some state winners and winning recipes were featured in local newspaper articles and even on local television programs. This year’s Kids’ State Dinner gained more recognition because the kids were proud to be role models that could spread the message of healthy eating.
Make sure to try some of the winning recipes at home with your family. Recipes such as Hawaiian Turkey Sliders with Mango-Pineapple Salsa and Lentil-Spinach Soup and Mint Chutney can be found online. The entire cookbook is available for free download at ChooseMyPlate.gov.
We couldn’t be more proud of these young chefs!