Remarks by The First Lady at The Kids' "State Dinner"
12:12 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you! (Applause.) Thank you all so much. Yay to you guys! Rest yourselves. Let me start out by saying hi, and welcome to the White House! (Applause.) This is it! This is the main room where we do our fancy stuff. And look who’s here -- you guys! Are you having fun?
MRS. OBAMA: Is it exciting?
MRS. OBAMA: Well, let me just say this: This is probably one of our favorite events -- not just of our staff and the Let’s Move! team, but the whole house. I mean our chefs, our butlers, our residence staff -- we all look forward to this day, watching you guys walk in, so proud and so handsome and beautiful. It just touches my heart. So we are always, always proud and thrilled to have you here. So congratulations.
Of course, I want to start by thanking Samuel. Oh, man, what an amazing young man! (Applause.) Samuel, you continue to impress us with your poise and your intellect and your passion. You're just a cool dude. (Laughter.) And thank you for coming and introducing me. I know you have a busy schedule -- (laughter) -- and I'm so glad you had some time to fit this in. So thanks so much.
And I want to join Deb in thanking our supporters -- again, PBS. WGBH Boston. Newman’s Own Foundation. United Airlines -- they got you here. Yes! (Applause.) Blue Apron -- that I actually know what that is, even though I don't need it because I have White House chefs. (Laughter.) But thank you to Blue Apron.
And of course, my dear, dear friend, who I call my partner in crime, who -- we just talked about it, we started talking about this issue was it nine years ago? On the campaign trail. I want to thank Rachael Ray and her team and her Yum-O! organization for all their work. (Applause.)
To Tanya, you’ve been such a rock star through all this, so thank you. Thank you so much.
I also want to recognize everyone from the Departments of Agriculture and Education, our teams here. You guys do the hard work on the ground, and then I get to come and do a great announcement and take credit for all the work that you do. Thank you for the help not just on this event, but on so many other Let’s Move! activities over the years. We're going to give them a round of applause. (Applause.) Thank you.
And, of course, kids, we have to give a big shout-out to the parents and the family members and the friends who helped get you here today. These young chefs are here today because of the love and the encouragement that you all poured into these young people not just inside, but outside of the kitchen every single day. And as I greeted each of you, I tried to make sure that I thanked you parents, because you raised these wonderful, amazing kids. And I know what it means to be a parent, how much you love these young people, how proud you are. You owe them, because they got you to the White House. (Laughter.) So, kids, let’s give a big, huge shout-out, thank you to our families! (Applause.) I like that high-five over there. Way to go, way to go.
But most of all, I want to recognize the 56 winners of the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge! (Applause.) You did it! You did it! (Applause.) Do you know that more than 1,200 kids from every state and territory in this country submitted recipes? Do you realize -- the competition was stiff! And as Deb said, after the panel of experts tasted and tested all the entries, you guys were the winners. Out of all those entries, all those recipes -- and I’m always -- thank you guys for eating all that food -- (laughter) -- you guys won. So that when I tell you -- I told each of you you should be proud of yourselves -- you should be very proud of yourselves. You earned these spots at these tables. Pretty cool.
So that's why we wanted to make this pretty fancy for you. I mean, we are doing everything that we do at all of our official state dinners -- our receiving line. We got tables decorated. Aren't they beautiful? Well done. (Applause.) We're going to have some fancy entertainment for you. Shhh, it’s a surprise. (Laughter.) You’ll hear about that later. And a lot of other stuff.
Because, look, you guys blew us away with your creativity and your skills in the kitchen. And as Deb said, all of the meals follow the MyPlate guidance for nutritious eating. They’re affordable. You guys just hit it out of the park.
Our young chef from Nebraska, Lauren Hinrichs, put it best -- this is what she said. Lauren, where are you? Stand up. Oh, there you go. These are her words. Lauren said, “It hit me that we can make foods that we already love into healthier but yummy foods.” Well said.
And that’s true for every single one of these recipes -- whether it’s “Alexandra’s Refreshing Watermelon Salad,” which is on your plates. Alexandra, where are you? Stand up. Stand up, sweetie. I told you we were going to be eating your salad. (Applause.) Or our “Korean Lentil Patties.” Who is responsible for that? Oh, there we go. (Applause.) Or our “Teeny Zucchini Triangular Panini.” (Laughter and applause.) That's going to be on our menu a little bit later -- and I promise that you won't have to say that out loud. Maybe you can practice that. Teeny, triangular -- no, it's tough. (Laughter.)
So to all of our young chefs here today, again, congratulations, and thank you for providing 56 more examples of how healthy food can also be delicious food.
And that’s really one of the reasons, the main reasons why we launched Let’s Move! in the first place. We wanted to help kids and families across this country see how easy and fun it can be to get back to spending time in the kitchen and cooking real food. I mean, real food, right? Not food from a box, but real food.
And since 2012, as part of Let’s Move!, we’ve hosted five of these -- five Kids’ State Dinners here at the White House. And altogether, we’ve reviewed over 6,000 recipe submissions. We’ve welcomed more than 270 young people and their families. And, of course, we ate a whole lot of good food. (Laughter.) That's a good thing.
But this event, and our Let’s Move! initiative, isn’t just about eating well today. This is about setting kids like all of you up for a lifetime of healthy choices. Because here’s what we know: Eating healthy foods can affect how well you do in school. That’s right. I can't say this enough -- the food that you put into your bodies can actually help you get better grades. And it can also affect your performance in sports and other activities too. You see, when you give your body the best possible fuel, you have more energy, you’re stronger, you think more quickly. You just feel better in general all throughout the day, every day.
But, look, I know you guys already know that, right? Yeah, you guys know this. And that's why you all are so passionate about eating healthy -- because you know the difference that it can make in your lives. And with that passion -- and with your winning recipes -- you all are now part of a proud Kids’ State Dinner tradition. You are part of a network of extraordinary young people who are leading a movement for healthy eating all across the country. You know that! It's a secret club -- (laughter) -- well, it's not so secret now. (Laughter.)
But you guys are moving and grooving. Let me give you an example. A young woman named Abby Cornwell represented Ohio at our Kids’ State Dinner two years ago. And when she got back to school after the event, Abby realized that some kids in her community weren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables. In fact, she came to learn that some of her classmates didn’t have anything to eat for breakfast at all. So Abby started a program called Apples From Abby, to deliver free, fresh apples to local schools. And since that time, Abby has helped deliver over 17,000 apples to her fellow students. Pretty good, huh?
Well, then there’s Braeden Mannering, who represented Delaware at the Kids’ State Dinner in 2013. Now, two days after that event, Braeden and his mom drove past a homeless man near his house. And when they got home, Braeden decided that he wanted to pack up a bag of healthy snacks and water, and he brought it back to that man. And Braeden didn’t stop there. Since then, Braeden has helped deliver almost 8,000 of these healthy brown bags to folks in need. How about that? Good stuff. (Applause.)
And, as you heard from Samuel, who’s already doing his part -- I think, Samuel, you put it best. We’ve got to pay this stuff forward, and each of our ambassadors are doing that.
So today, we definitely want you guys to enjoy your day here at the White House. Take it all in, guys, okay? Take a lot of pictures. Enjoy the food. Have fun. But when you go home, here’s what we need you to do: We need you to continue this proud Kids’ State Dinner tradition by being ambassadors for the healthy eating in your communities just like Abby and Braeden and Samuel.
We need you to share your recipes with your friends and families, if you haven't already done so. We need you to tell them about what you saw here at the White House -- not just the fancy food and the entertainment, but tell them about how, even though we live right in the middle of a big city, we have a beautiful garden right on the South Lawn. And we here at the White House, we eat locally from our garden whenever we can -- which, by the way, is one of the most delicious and affordable ways to eat healthy.
And finally, I want you all to tell everyone back home about how, every year, kids just like you help us plant and harvest our White House garden. I want you to tell them that the food you're eating today -- we used vegetables and herbs from our garden. Isn't that pretty cool? So just think about that. Just think about how cool that is -- that today, here at the White House, kid farmers helped grow the food used to prepare kid chefs’ recipes. Isn't that something?
So let me tell you, don’t ever let anyone tell you that kids can’t make a difference. You all have really made the difference on this issue. You guys are the leaders. In fact, when it comes to building a healthier country, we’re counting on all of you guys to lead the way. And that may sound like a big ask of you, but you guys can do this. So many of you have already stepped up in your families, in your schools, in your communities.
Jamal Bin-Yusif -- Jamal, where are you, babe? There you go. Handsome young man -- he’s like, I'm right here. (Laughter.) Right there. Jamal is from Delaware, and his family had a history of high blood pressure. So Jamal figured out how to lower the amount of salt in his family’s favorite dishes. Dude, way to go. Way to go! (Applause.)
And then there’s Jude VanderHooven -- Jude, there you go, you're right there. Jude, stand up one more time so they can see you. Jude is from New Hampshire. He helps harvest his grandparents’ garden, and then he delivers the extra zucchini to a local food pantry. Thank you, Jude. Well done. (Applause.)
So every single one of you, you go back home and start making changes like these. If you do that, there’s really no telling what you can achieve. Really. I mean, just think about it. You guys aren’t even in high school yet, and you’ve already made it to the White House. I mean, come on. (Laughter.) That's pretty big, right? So just imagine where you could end up if you keep on working on this issue throughout school, and then go on to college -- because that's all the next step for everybody, right? College is a must, right? (Applause.) And then you carry on these habits for the rest of your lives. Imagine all the people you guys could help. Imagine all the lives you could change. You guys can do that. As small as you think you are, you can change lives.
I know you guys can do this. I see this every year. I see the work of kids, the magic you all do. 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.
But you guys are going to do this, right? I want you to know that I am so proud of each and every one of you. And I am sad that this is my last Kids’ State Dinner, but it's not the last of the work that we're going to do on this issue, right? So when I'm old and gray, I want to see you guys looking after me, making sure I'm eating my vegetables, right? (Laughter.) When you're standing here in charge of stuff, I want you to remember, you got to take care of little old Mrs. Obama. (Laughter.)
So I can't wait to see everything you all do with your lives in the months and years ahead. Again, congratulations to you all. Well done. Well done. (Applause.)
So now were going to get ready to eat. I'm hungry. I can't wait. But before we do, I want to introduce one more person who believes deeply in you, as I do. He wanted to send along a special message by video -- because he’s kind of busy, and today he was really busy. So he sent you guys a message. So let me introduce to you all my husband, President Barack Obama. He’s on those screens. (Applause.) Let’s hear what he has to say.
(A video is shown.)
12:31 P.M. EDT