In the News: The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids “State Dinner” with the First Lady, Michelle Obama

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Epicurious and First Lady Michelle Obama, the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture are all teaming up to launch a nationwide recipe challenge to promote healthy lunches. The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ “State Dinner” invites parents (or legal guardians) and their children, ages 8-12, to create and submit a recipe for a lunch that is nutritious and delicious.  All entrants have the chance to win a trip to Washington D.C. and the opportunity to be invited to attend a Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House in August, where a selection of the winning healthy recipes will be served.


The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ “State Dinner” invites a parent or guardian to work with their child to create an original lunchtime recipe that is healthy, affordable, and tasty.  In support of Let’s Move!, launched by the First Lady to solve the problem of childhood obesity, entrants are encouraged to reference the nutritional guidelines of the USDA’s site,, to ensure recipes meet the primary criterion of being healthier.  Entries should represent each of the food groups, either in one dish or as parts of a lunch meal, including fruit, veggies, whole grains, protein and low-fat dairy foods.  All U.S. states and territories are invited to participate, including Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico,Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Fifty-six winners (one winner from each of the 50 states, plus the U.S. Territories, D.C., and Puerto Rico) and a parent or guardian will be flown to our nation’s capital and will have the opportunity to be invited to attend a once-in-a-lifetime Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House, hosted by Mrs. Obama, where a selection of the winning healthy recipes will be served.


“We all want to ensure that our kids are eating nutritious, delicious food at every meal, and as a mom I know that parents are always looking for new ideas to make that happen,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “With parents and kids all across the country getting creative in the kitchen, I know we’ll find healthy meals that every family will enjoy.  And I can’t wait to try the kids’ creations myself.”


“We are truly honored that Mrs. Obama is partnering with Epicurious to help raise awareness for the importance of healthy lunches, and healthy eating for kids, overall,” saidTanya Steel, editor-in-chief of Epicurious. “This topic has long been a personal passion of mine and I’ve supported the First Lady’s ‘Let’s Move!’ campaign through Epicurious.Through The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, we are hoping to make a positive change in the way our children eat and live by showing them that meals, especially their school lunch, can be tasty AND healthy.”


The winning recipes will be chosen by a panel of judges that includes Tanya Steel, Assistant White House Chef Sam Kass, USDA and Department of Education representatives, as well as a celebrity chef. The winning recipes will be available free to all in a downloadable and printable e-cookbook that features nutritional analysis, and photos and drawings of the recipes, available via the contest web site,,, and


“This Challenge helps both parents and their kids to think about the basic ingredients of a healthy lunch, whether you make it at home or get it in the school lunch line,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.  “Understanding the components of a balanced diet is important for a lifetime of healthy eating.”


“In the 21st century, healthy food is not an add-on to a good education. To succeed in the knowledge-based, global economy, children need tasty, nutritious food to help them excel academically,” said Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education.  “Students of all ages can plant gardens to learn science, nutrition, civic and business skills.  Even our youngest can learn how to healthfully prepare their harvest in the kitchen, take responsibility for nutritious meals and feel pride at a recipe well executed with his or her own two hands.”


Recipes can be submitted May 21 through June 17, either online at or via mail at: “The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge c/o,” 1166 Avenue of the Americas, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036. Winners will be notified on July 16. The White House Kids “State Dinner” is currently scheduled to take place in August 2012. Westin Hotels will be providing hotel rooms for the winning families, and Delta Air Lines will provide air travel to Washington, D.C.  For more information and contest rules, visit

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