A Child's Perspective on the 2014 White House Kids' State Dinner

3 years ago

Editor's Note: My children once again served as reporters for this year's White House Kids' State Dinner.  And once again, the President and First Lady planted the idea of healthy eating into the minds of the winners, imploring the children to carry what they learned from the experience back into their day-to-day world.  We were grateful on a day when the President and First Lady were extremely busy with world events that they could take a moment out of their schedule to drive home the point that healthy eating matters. --Mel

Grillin' Out Veggie-Style Black Bean Burger.  "What! You Don't Like Tofu?" Stirfry.  Barack-oli and Mich-room Obama-lette.  These are just three of the 54 recipes that made it into the 2014 Kids' State Dinner at the White House on July 18, 2014.

Before the winners ate, Tanya Steel from Epicurious introduced Braeden Mannering, a winner from the 2013 Kids' State Dinner who left last year's event and started an organization called Brae's Brown Bags to delivers healthy snacks to the homeless.  He said,

A wise senator from Illinois once said, "There is no Black America and White America.  No Latino America and Asian America.  There is the United States of America."  I would like to be able to one day say, "There is no Poor America or Rich America."  There isn't an America where people are starving or an America where people are overeating.  There is an America where justice is truly for all including the opportunity to put healthy food on your table when you're at home or in school.

After he spoke, the First Lady talked about healthy eating and echoed what Mannering had to say, agreeing that everyone should eat healthy. 

But her husband, President Obama took the stage and admitted that everyone in their family also likes junk food every once in a while.  For instance, he loves chips and guacamole, and Michelle Obama loves French fries.  The President's point was that nobody is perfect, and that's okay.  We just need to eat healthy the majority of the time.

The winners were served lunch in the East Room, and they got to sample chicken and grape salad lettuce wraps, quinoa sweet potato boats, and finished off with a tropical strawberry-banana secret smoothie.  After the meal, the winners were surprised by an amazing performance of the Lion King by the traveling cast.

Before we went to tour the White House garden, Sam Kass, a judge for the Kids' State Dinner and the chef at the White House, told a story of the fig tree which serves as a message for how even if things don't work immediately, events like these plant a seed in the minds of kids. 

The fig tree was from Thomas Jefferson's house, Monticello.  They planted it in the White House garden.  One day, a volunteer was weeding the garden and thought it was a weed because it was so small and pulled it out of the ground.  The tree was left in the compost pile.  Two or three days later, Sam Kass went to check on the tree and saw it was not there.  He asked the volunteer what happened, and the volunteer said they had put it in the compost pile.  Sam Kass got it from the compost pile and replanted it.  After he replanted, the tree was so mad at them that it decided not to give them any figs for a year.  He had a long talk with the tree, and this year, it forgave them and gave them figs.

Even if you leave the Kids' State Dinner and eat junk food, it does not mean that you can never try to eat healthy again.  Just like the fig tree that did not grow for a whole year, a person that does not eat healthy this year may decide to eat healthy the next year.  And I hope you do.

By S and G Ford (with typing help by Melissa Ford)

All images by Melissa Ford

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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