56 kids join first lady Michelle Obama for last Kids’ ‘State Dinner’

On July 14, first lady Michelle Obama hosted the fifth annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and Kids’ “State Dinner” to promote cooking and healthy eating among youth. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) 

Thursday, July 14, was the annual Kids’ “State Dinner,” and its 56 attendees were winners of this year’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a contest where kids ages 8 to 12 submit healthy, affordable lunchtime recipes.  (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Special guests included Food Network star Rachael Ray and Samuel Davis, an outspoken 12-year-old from Louisiana and the 2015 winner of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, who has since become an ambassador-of-sorts for the first lady’s efforts in childhood nutrition. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) 

 

For the challenge, kids, ages 8 to 12, submitted healthy, affordable and original lunchtime recipes. 56 recipes were selected from more than 1,200 entries to join the first lady for Thursday’s lunch. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) 

 

Each winner and his parent/guardian was flown to D.C., courtesy of United Airlines, and accommodations were provided by the Westin Georgetown. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) 

 

The hall in the entryway of the White House was decorated with chefs hats and broccoli plants for the annual Kids’ “State Dinner,” Thursday, July 14. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)

The menu at this year’s Kids’ “State Dinner” consisted of a refreshing watermelon salad, sweet and savory chicken and peaches, cauliflower rice, a zucchini panini, fruit salad and a spinach smoothie. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) 

 

This year’s winning recipes are available in the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ “State Dinner” Cookbook. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) 

The DMV had strong representation at this year’s Kids’ “State Dinner.” Elena Sotobashi, 8, won from D.C.; Kathryn Duvall, 10, represented Virginia; and Colby Trenor, 9, attended from Maryland. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) 

 

Thursday’s Kids’ “State Dinner” was the first lady’s last before leaving office. Instead of turning out the lights after the event, Obama passed the baton to the next generation.

“When it comes to building a healthier country, we’re counting on all of you guys to lead the way. So many of you have already stepped up in your families, your schools, your communities … I see the work of kids, the magic you all do,” she said. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) 

 

Some winning recipes from this year’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge include spaghetti squash and turkey Bolognese, chicken tikka pita with cucumber raita, lentil tacos with cilantro-avocado drizzle, quinoa chickpea salmon rolls, Maryland crab lettuce cups and Carolina shrimp tacos with pineapple salsa. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) 

President Barack Obama made a brief appearance at the lunch, albeit via video. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)

All 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia were represented at the lunch, which was made using fresh vegetables and herbs from the first lady’s White House Kitchen Garden. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) 

 

Baskets of tomatoes, carrots and radishes sat on top of strawberry-patterned tablecloths, and the silverware was set inside gardening gloves. During lunch, guests were treated to a live performance by Walt Disney World Resort’s “The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic!” (WTOP/Rachel Nania) 

 

The event was the annual Kids’ “State Dinner,” and its 56 attendees were winners of this year’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a contest where kids ages 8 to 12 submit healthy, affordable lunchtime recipes. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) 

 

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at the 2016 Kids' State Dinner in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 14, 2016. The event is hosted by first lady Michelle Obama and is part the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge inviting 8 to 12-years-olds across the country to create healthy, affordable, original, and delicious lunch recipes. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at the 2016 Kids’ State Dinner in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 14, 2016. The event is hosted by first lady Michelle Obama and is part the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge inviting 8 to 12-years-olds across the country to create healthy, affordable, original, and delicious lunch recipes. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

First Lady Michelle Obama, hugs Samuel Davis, 12, from Shreveport, La., the 2015 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winner, at the 2016 Kids' State Dinner in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 14, 2016. The event is hosted by first lady Michelle Obama and is part the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge inviting 8 to 12-years-olds across the country to create healthy, affordable, original, and delicious lunch recipes. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
First Lady Michelle Obama, hugs Samuel Davis, 12, from Shreveport, La., the 2015 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winner, at the 2016 Kids’ State Dinner in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 14, 2016. The event is hosted by first lady Michelle Obama and is part the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge inviting 8 to 12-years-olds across the country to create healthy, affordable, original, and delicious lunch recipes. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

First Lady Michelle Obama, center, sits with winners of 2016 Kids' Healthy Lunchtime Challenge in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 14, 2016. Sitting next to Obama are Grayson Giles, left, from Guam, and Aniya Madkin, right, from Mississippi. The event is hosted by Obama and is part the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge inviting 8 to 12-years-olds across the country to create healthy, affordable, original, and delicious lunch recipes. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
First Lady Michelle Obama, center, sits with winners of 2016 Kids’ Healthy Lunchtime Challenge in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 14, 2016. Sitting next to Obama are Grayson Giles, left, from Guam, and Aniya Madkin, right, from Mississippi. The event is hosted by Obama and is part the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge inviting 8 to 12-years-olds across the country to create healthy, affordable, original, and delicious lunch recipes. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Rachael Ray, hugs Gianna Malecki, 8, from New Jersey, at the 2016 Kids' State Dinner in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 14, 2016. The event is hosted by first lady Michelle Obama and is part the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge inviting 8 to 12-years-olds across the country to create healthy, affordable, original, and delicious lunch recipes. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Rachael Ray, hugs Gianna Malecki, 8, from New Jersey, at the 2016 Kids’ State Dinner in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 14, 2016. The event is hosted by first lady Michelle Obama and is part the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge inviting 8 to 12-years-olds across the country to create healthy, affordable, original, and delicious lunch recipes. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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Thursday, July 14, was the annual Kids’ “State Dinner,” and its 56 attendees were winners of this year’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a contest where kids ages 8 to 12 submit healthy, affordable lunchtime recipes.  (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at the 2016 Kids' State Dinner in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 14, 2016. The event is hosted by first lady Michelle Obama and is part the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge inviting 8 to 12-years-olds across the country to create healthy, affordable, original, and delicious lunch recipes. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
First Lady Michelle Obama, hugs Samuel Davis, 12, from Shreveport, La., the 2015 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winner, at the 2016 Kids' State Dinner in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 14, 2016. The event is hosted by first lady Michelle Obama and is part the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge inviting 8 to 12-years-olds across the country to create healthy, affordable, original, and delicious lunch recipes. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
First Lady Michelle Obama, center, sits with winners of 2016 Kids' Healthy Lunchtime Challenge in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 14, 2016. Sitting next to Obama are Grayson Giles, left, from Guam, and Aniya Madkin, right, from Mississippi. The event is hosted by Obama and is part the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge inviting 8 to 12-years-olds across the country to create healthy, affordable, original, and delicious lunch recipes. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Rachael Ray, hugs Gianna Malecki, 8, from New Jersey, at the 2016 Kids' State Dinner in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 14, 2016. The event is hosted by first lady Michelle Obama and is part the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge inviting 8 to 12-years-olds across the country to create healthy, affordable, original, and delicious lunch recipes. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
November 29, 2021 | Dining and dishing with the first lady at the Kids' 'State Dinner' (WTOP's Rachel Nania)

WASHINGTON — Kathryn Duvall walked through a pair of tall double doors and past a sea of Secret Service agents onto the North Portico of the White House wearing a blue dress and a big smile.   

“That was amazing,” said the rising fifth grader from Fairfax County, Virginia. “Just not many 10-year-olds get to do this!”

She’s right. But on Thursday, Duvall was one of 18 10-year-olds — and 38 8-, 9-, 11- and 12-year-olds — to join first lady Michelle Obama in the East Room of the White House for lunch.

The event was the annual Kids’ “State Dinner,” and its 56 attendees were winners of this year’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a contest where kids ages 8 to 12 submit healthy, affordable lunchtime recipes.  

“We are doing everything that we do at all of our official state dinners,” the first lady told the young winners and their parents/guardians. “[We have] our receiving line, we’ve got tables decorated.”

On the menu was watermelon salad, sweet and savory chicken and peaches, cauliflower rice, zucchini paninis, fruit salad and a spinach smoothie — all winning recipes from the 1,200 received in this year’s contest.

Baskets of tomatoes, carrots and radishes sat on top of strawberry-patterned tablecloths, and the silverware was set inside gardening gloves. During lunch, guests were treated to a live performance by Walt Disney World Resort’s “The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic!”

Special guests included Food Network star Rachael Ray and Samuel Davis, an outspoken 12-year-old from Louisiana and the 2015 winner of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, who has since become an ambassador-of-sorts for the first lady’s efforts in childhood nutrition.

“When I was 3 years old, I learned that eating healthy was like throwing a party for your belly,” Davis told the crowd.

“So thank you, first lady, for allowing us all to have a party in our bellies today, and inspiring us to eat healthy everyday.”

All 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia were represented at the lunch, which was made using fresh vegetables and herbs from the first lady’s White House Kitchen Garden.

Duvall’s winning recipe, called Victory at Yorktown, was a wrap with hummus, chicken, avocado, carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers. Colby Trenor, a 9-year-old from Maryland, showcased local blue crab in his winning recipe for Maryland crab lettuce cups, and 8-year-old Elena Sotobashi of D.C. won the first lady and her panel of expert judges over with a recipe for DIY sushi rolls.

Thursday’s Kids’ “State Dinner” was the first lady’s last before leaving office. Instead of turning out the lights after the event, Obama passed the baton to the next generation.

“When it comes to building a healthier country, we’re counting on all of you guys to lead the way. So many of you have already stepped up in your families, your schools, your communities … I see the work of kids, the magic you all do,” she said.

“People change because of kids. They change how they eat, they change the way they think, they change the way they see one another. You guys are so powerful, and you don’t even know it.”

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