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Kids' State Dinner celebrates healthy lunches (+video)

Michelle Obama hosted the second Kids' State Dinner at the White House on July 9. The guests were 54 American children who had submitted winning recipes for a healthy recipe contest sponsored by the White House and Epicurious.

By Contributor / July 9, 2013

President Obama was a surprise guest at the second Kids' State Dinner hosted by first lady Michelle Obama at the White House to honor the winners of a nationwide recipe challenge to promote healthy lunches.

Yuri Gripas/REUTERS

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State dinners at the White House are a big deal. President Obama dines with world leaders, discussing issues and ideas over the finest cuisine. But it wasn't British Prime Minister David Cameron or Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai eating with the president today.

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Contributor

Colby Bermel was a summer 2013 intern at The Christian Science Monitor, working in the op-ed and People Making a Difference departments. Born in Atlanta and raised in Boston, Colby is a sophomore at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, where he is double majoring in political science and mass communication. He is passionate about Twitter, music, and general shenanigans.

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White House chef Sam Kass talks about the importance of young people becoming involved in creating (and eating!) healthy dishes at the 2013 Kids' State Dinner.

Fifty-four young children from around the country were the guests of honor at the second Kids' State Dinner. They received the invite to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. thanks to winning recipes they submitted to the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a campaign put on by first lady Michelle Obama. A panel of judges evaluated more than 1,300 recipes from the 50 states and four US territories to determine which kid-created dishes are the most healthy, delicious, and affordable.

Meals with names like Sneaky Chili Surprise and Bring It On Brussels Sprouts Wrap were judged by professionals from Epicurious.com and the D.C. Central Kitchen, and they did not disappoint.

"There's been some dynamite dishes. I mean, really," said White House chef Sam Kass, who is also the executive director of Mrs. Obama's Let's Move! initiative. "There's a couple of things I would cook for the first family out there."

Inside the East Room the children were welcomed as honored guests.

"Coming to the White House, it's a big hassle, isn't it?" Mrs. Obama asked to much laughter when addressing the children and their parents. Encouraging young people to eat healthy and be active, she said that "it's about making sure that your body can be strong and healthy, and your mind can be ready to learn and explore and dream."

The first lady's husband made an unannounced stop by the dinner, congratulating the children for winning the challenge. "Keep it up. You guys are going to set a good example for everybody across the country," President Obama said.

The cooking website Epicurious.com partnered with Mrs. Obama to put on the event and organize the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. "[Mrs. Obama] as a mom understands as I do how important it is to get kids in the kitchen to understand what healthy eating is and how important it really is," said Epicurious editor-in-chief Tanya Steele.

"You don't think that 9-, 10-year-olds are going to come up with this as an option for school food, but it's gratifying to see," D.C. Central Kitchen CEO Michael Curtin said.

You can download the official 2013 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Cookbook here. 

Wire material was used for this report.

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