For 54 children, eating their vegetables came with a special reward on Tuesday. First lady Michelle Obama invited these 8- to 12-year-olds to lunch at the White House, where the kids' health-conscious recipes composed the menu.
One child from each state, Washington, D.C., and three U.S. territories attended the second annual Kids' State Dinner, which was actually a luncheon in the East Room of the White House. Part of Mrs. Obama's health-initiative Let's Move, the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge drew original recipe submissions from more than 1,300 children.
"When kids like all of you get involved in creating your own healthy meals, the results can really be amazing," Mrs. Obama said. "It's about making sure that your body can be strong and healthy and your mind can be ready to learn and explore and dream."
With the Departments of Education and Agriculture, the first lady selected the winners who based their recipes on government food recommendations. Picky-Eater Pita Pizza Pockets and Super Rescue Soup are among the featured culinary creations.
As he did last year, President Obama surprised the kids' with a speech at the luncheon - and a joke about not being invited. While he said he didn't like the "mushy" vegetables he grew up eating, Mr. Obama credited the young attendees for figuring out how to prepare healthy "food that tastes good."
"You are setting up habits that are going to be great for your entire life," Mr. Obama said before he walked around the East Room to meet attendees. "You're setting a great example for your classmates, and I suspect you're setting a good example for your parents, who sometimes may not always be eating as healthy as they're supposed to."
Accompanied by a parent, each child walked to the meal on a red carpet in the White House, stopping for media interviews - and an inflatable animal balloon - along the way. The receiving line mimicked that used for dignitaries invited to White House State Dinners, Mrs. Obama said.
"If you can walk in this room and sit at these chairs, and be in front of these cameras, and meet the First Lady of the United States, then you can do anything in the world," Mrs. Obama said. "You can do anything you want in the world."