Wednesday, April 03, 2013

First Lady Michelle Obama Announces Second 'Healthy Lunchtime Challenge' Recipe Contest And White House Kids' State Dinner

Deadline to enter is May 12; Prize package includes round trip airfare to DC and a hotel stay...
UPDATE, June 20:  First Lady announces the winners
First Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday announced a second nationwide recipe contest to promote healthy eating, the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, with the grand prize being a trip to the White House for the Kids' State Dinner this summer.   (Above, Mrs. Obama dining with winners last year) 

Mrs. Obama hosted the first contest and lunch for kids ages 8-12 last year, welcoming winning junior chefs from all 50 states and the US territories to 1600 Penn for a day celebrating healthy eating and cooking.  

The Let's Move! event was such a big deal that President Obama dropped by to join the fun.  The new contest is open for entries as of today, and closes on May 12

The first contest/lunch was "one of my favorite events we’ve ever done for Let’s Move!," Mrs. Obama said in a statement.  

"Last year’s young chefs impressed and inspired me with their creativity, and I can’t wait to welcome a whole new group to the White House this summer and taste their creations.  So kids, let’s get cooking!"

As she did in 2012, Mrs. Obama has teamed up with, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Department of Agriculture for the contest, which calls for kids ages 8-12 and parents or guardians to "submit an original lunch recipe that is healthy, affordable, and tasty."  More than 1,000 recipes were submitted last year.

Up to 56 winning lunch recipes will be chosen by a panel of judges, including Let’s Move! Executive Director Sam Kass, Epicurious editor-in-chief Tanya Steel, USDA and U.S. Department of Education representatives, and a celebrity chef, "to be named."  Winners will be notified "in late June," and the the White House chefs will cook some of the recipes for the Kids' State Dinner, which will actually be a luncheon in July or August, a spokesman for Mrs. Obama said.  (Above, last year's winning entree at the lunch, 'Yummy Cabbage Sloppy Joes')

The prize package includes two round-trip coach class airfare tickets for each winner and a guardian, and a one-night hotel stay in Washington, DC.  The winning recipes will be collected in a cookbook that will be distributed nationally.  Download the 2012 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Cookbook.
 The rules...
Children must be ages 8-12 before the contest deadline to enter.  Each original lunch recipe must be "healthy, affordable, and tasty" and must adhere to the USDA’s MyPlate nutritional guidelines "to ensure that the criteria of a healthy meal are met, " and "must represent each of the food groups, either in one dish or as parts of a lunch meal, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy foods, with fruits and veggies making up roughly half the plate or recipe," according to the rules.  Visit for guidance, and check out the MyPlate Pinterest recipe board for ideas. (Above, the President greets kids at the first state Dinner)

Recipes can be submitted April 3 through May 12, 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 at the end of June. For more information and contest rules visit  FULL CONTEST RULES.

A total of 56 winners will be chosen to represent all U.S. states and territories, including Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands.  The prize package includes a round-trip flight to Washington, DC, and a one-night hotel stay.  Winners will be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  The Kids' State Dinner luncheon will take place in August or July, and a selection of winning recipes will be served.

"In order to promote a healthier next generation of Americans, we need to encourage kids to make healthier choices now – which they can carry into adulthood,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.  "USDA is thrilled to be part of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge again this year because it inspires kids to use USDA’s MyPlate to take a hands-on approach to building healthier meal times." (Above, Mrs. Obama's place setting at last year's luncheon)

"We know healthy kids are healthy students, and healthy students are better able to engage in the classroom and excel academically," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "If we can get our children to eat healthier and exercise more, that’s a recipe for success. Kids are the best judges of what looks and tastes good, so we’re challenging them to create lunches that all their peers will enjoy."

“We are thrilled to once again partner with Mrs. Obama, and to champion her Let’s Move! initiative, in an effort to raise awareness for the importance of healthy eating among kids,” said Steel, editor-in-chief of Epicurious.  "Through ‘The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge,’ we will, for the second year, create a call to action for kids, highlighting the importance of healthy meals. This initiative will continue to make a positive impact on the way our children eat, and will reinforce that meals, especially school lunches, can be delicious and nutritious.”

A free, downloadable and printable e-cookbook featuring the winning recipes, nutritional analysis, photos and drawings, will be available via,, and after the contest ends.

The First Lady Tweeted about the contest:


*Top and second photo by Eddie gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama; photo of President Obama by Pete Souza/White House; place setting by Sonya N. Hebert/White House