The President and First Lady at the 2014 Kids’ State Dinner


Mrs. Obama: Okay, Braeden. (laughter) All right,
it’s going to be hard. All right, mister, you’re
not supposed to make the First Lady cry. (laughter) Thanks so much. You guys, let’s give
Braeden a big round of applause. (applause) Well
done, young man. Well done. And thank you so
much, Christy. Thank you. Okay, this is cool, right? You guys having
a good time? Audience: Yes. Mrs. Obama: Yes? Has it been exciting
from beginning to end? Audience: Yes. Mrs. Obama: What’s been
the best part so far? Audience: You. Mrs. Obama: This? All right, I didn’t
cue them on that one. (laughter) That was
a natural response. Well, I am just delighted
to have you guys. You guys look amazing. You have dressed so appropriately for the event. Doesn’t the room
look beautiful? They do such a great job. And all this stuff was
picked out especially for you guys. It is really an
honor to be here. And I want to start by
thanking Tanya and all the folks from Epicurious, the
entire team, for, year after year, making
this event possible. It is truly the highlight
of our lives, and I know that everyone
involved really, really gets inspired from this event. And I’m also thrilled
about the new Kids and Chefs Cook for Success
program that you guys are launching. And with this effort, you
guys are going to take this whole thing
to another level. So I love the fact that,
Epicurious, you’re finding ways to step this
up every single year. So thank you, guys, and
a big round of applause. (applause) And, of course,
to our Delta Airlines team for flying everybody here. Oh, let’s all go! Yay! (applause) How many people
was it your first trip on an airplane? Or is everybody
old flying pros? You’ve been flown
before, huh? You haven’t flown before? Well, that’s awesome. So did Delta Airlines
treat you well? Audience: Yes. (applause) Mrs. Obama:
All right, there you go. Bob was a little nervous
on that question. (laughter) And I want
to join Tanya in also thanking all of the
family members, the parents, the moms, the dads. I know we have an aunt
or two here, as well. Thank you all so much for
supporting your kids in this passion, and
for cooking with them and for putting up with those
endless messes in the kitchen. Who’s a messy cook here? (laughter) Me, too. Me, too. (laughter) But I hope
you all know that their success is because of your
love and your constant encouragement for
their creativity. So we’re just so grateful
to all of you grownups who are here with us today,
and I hope you’re having a good time, too. But, of course, most of
all, I want to recognize our guest of honor, our 54 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winners! (applause) Congratulations. (applause) Yes, whoop it up. Party in the White House. It’s exciting. I am so proud of you. The President is
so proud of you. Oh, look at the
room out there. I missed the balloons. (laughter) We have been
working so hard to make this event
special for you. But these kids
have been selected. There were more than 1,500
kids that submitted their recipes for this year’s
challenge, and it was not easy to choose
just one winner from each state, so this was a competitive
experience. You had to claw your
way to the finish line. (laughter) I hope you
didn’t push and shove anyone on the way
up to the top. But you made it. But you’re all here
because a panel of distinguished judges
agreed that your recipes were the very best. And I want to thank
all the judges. Sam was one of
those judges. (applause) There’s
a lot of eating. Did you taste all
1,500 recipes? Mr. Kass: 110 dishes. Mrs. Obama: 110 dishes. Mr. Kass: That’s a lot. Mrs. Obama:
Thank you, Sam. (laughter) Well done. But yours were the most
nutritious and the most delicious, all right? So healthy and
good, too, right? And you guys took very different paths to get here. Some of you started
cooking as a way to bond with your
families — and that was true for Genene Wedd. Hey, Genene, how are you? From California. He said, “I love
cooking with my mom. It is fun spending time
with her and talking about my day.” And for some of you,
cooking is how you celebrate your
culture or other cultures you’re interested in. Lucy Hickerson
— where’s Lucy? I know I saw Lucy. Where are you, Lucy? Lucy is from Kentucky, and
she made a pocket with sweet potatoes and kale. And she describes her dish
as a combination of an Indian samosa, a Spanish
empanada and an Asian spring roll. And what Lucy says, “It’s
like going around the world in one bite.” (laughter) And some of
you like to cook because you’re good at it and
hope to make it a career. That’s why Hannah Foley
from Pennsylvania right here — as she said — she
said, “I love to cook and hope to one day be a chef
with my own show on the Food Network.” (laughter) Wait,
she’s got a title. (laughter) It’s called,
“H to the F to the Hannah Foley Chef.” (laughter) Yes, that’s
been in my head for many days. (laughter) That’s
why I knew it. H to the F — okay. But no matter how you got
to the White House today, you’re all here for
one simple reason. And I think Adrianna
Nelson from West Virginia — Adrianna,
where are you? Hi, you. This is what she said. She said, “I love to
create healthy recipes because I feel great
when I eat healthy.” That’s why you’re here. Like Adrianna, you all
know that what you eat affects how you feel,
and how much energy you have, and how well you
do at school. And that’s really why
I started Let’s Move. I did it because I care
deeply about the kids in this country. I really do. Not just as First Lady, but I’m a mom, I’ve got two kids. I love them, and I love
you all just as much. So it’s important for me
to make sure that the things I do for my
girls are the same things that every kid in this
country has access to. And that’s why we’ve been
working so hard to help families cook healthy
meals at home, and to get more grocery stores
into our communities, and to get companies to market
healthier foods to kids. And most of all, that’s
why we’ve been fighting so hard for our new
healthy school lunches. And I have to tell you,
and I said this to some of you in the photo line
that you all are my inspiration. Kids like you really
do inspire me. You all represent 54
reasons why we know that we can do so much better
by our kids when it comes to eating healthy because
the truth is, is that if 8-, 9- and 10-year-old
kids can cook and happily eat a healthy, tasty meal,
then there is absolutely no reason why we can’t get
nutritious food into every school in this
country that kids will actually enjoy. You guys remind me of
that every single day. Now, I know that some of
you might have friends who want to bring back the junk food in the schools, right? Because there’s
always those kids. They’re like, give
me my junk food back. (laughter) And I know that
in recent months, we’ve even seen grownups,
including folks in Congress, trying to undo
some of the progress that we’ve made
to get healthier food into our schools. And while the vast
majority of the schools are doing just fine with
these new standards, those few complaining voices
happen to be the loudest voices and they’re getting
the most attention right now. So here’s what I’m going to ask you to do for this year. I need you guys to make
your voices heard, too. It’s important. And don’t be shy. I want you to speak up, talk to your classmates and your teachers. Share with them what
you’ve learned about healthy eating and
cooking, about how to craft interesting things. Like, Braeden, you might
even get your school to test your recipe in the
lunchroom for other kids. Teach them what you know
about healthy eating. And also, to the parents,
parents play a really important role in what
happens on the ground. And in many instances,
parents are way more powerful than people like
us in the White House. So I urge you guys to
speak up as well, and to continue speaking up. Go to those PTA meetings
and those school board meetings and tell them
what you know and what you’re learning, to
make sure that they’re listening to all the
voices on this issue. There’s a lot of money
involved in feeding our kids at school. We are currently spending
$10 billion a year — did you hear that, $10 billion
a year — on our school lunch programs. So it’s not surprising
that there are certain interests that are
resisting change and trying to take us back
to the old ways of doing business, because for them
there’s a lot of money is on the line. But you all have a right
to expect that your hard-earned tax
dollars will be spent on food that meets basic
nutrition standards. It’s as simple as that. Because when you are
working so hard to prepare nutritious foods at
home, I know that you don’t want all that work
undone when you send your kids off to school and they’re
eating in the lunchroom. So we can’t afford to stay
silent on this issue, because if we do we’re
going to wind up right back where we started. And that’s not acceptable. Because I know that
everyone in this room, at least, and many people
around the country know that the food our kids are
eating today will affect their health for decades. We are laying an imprint
on our kids with everything they put into
their bodies today. We know so much more about
how nutrition and exercise impacts our
children’s ability to focus and succeed both in
school and in life. And that’s why you guys,
as parents, are so passionately supporting
your kids on this issue — you know that this is
real, this isn’t a joke. So what I don’t want to
have happen is that 20 years from now I don’t
want us to be looking back and saying to ourselves,
man, we were almost there, we were right on the brink
of transforming our kids’ health, but then things
got tough and expensive, and then we didn’t stand
up and we didn’t speak up, and we gave up too soon. Our kids deserve
better than that. And they don’t know, but
we know — we know better. All of you kids, like
kids across this country, deserve everything that we
adults can muster up for you. I have to tell my kids
that every day — I still know more than they do. (laughter) So when we know
better, we have to do better for you. So I hope that you all
will serve as ambassadors, okay? And think about, as
Braeden did, how you will pay this forward. And there are many, many
ways you’re going to pay it forward. There’s no one right
answer on how you’re going to do it. But when you get a chance
to do something this special and to come to the
White House, and have all this press and all
these special things going on, I know for me when I think
about my advantages, I think, I have to give that
back to somebody else. That is my obligation. That’s the price I pay for
standing here and hanging out. So I want you to think
about what you’re going to do. I want you to keep talking
to other kids about eating healthy. Help them learn. Help them try new things. And you’re going to run
into bumps and bruises — I know, Braeden, it must
have been hard work starting your new
non-profit organization. I’m sure it wasn’t easy
every step of the way, but it was so worth
it, right, for the thanks that you get and knowing that you impact the lives of others. So I know each of you
can do that in your own special way. And we’re going to do this
again next year, so I hope that one of you will
be standing here like Braeden, being able
to share all the great things that you’ve done over the course
of the year. I can’t wait to see what
you guys accomplish. You all are pretty
amazing young people. So I think with that, it’s
time to eat, don’t you think? I’m a little hungry. I just had fruit for
breakfast so I’m really ready to try all
these dishes. (applause) You guys,
have a great time. And I will see
you after lunch. Enjoy. (applause) Wait, wait. We have a special guest —
Braeden knew about this — but another person who
likes this event just as much as me, who never
gets invited to sit down is the President of the
United States. (applause) The President:
Hello, everybody! I am not going to hold up
the meal — everybody sit down. (laughter) I just wanted
to come by because I love the event. First of all, we have
a lot of state dinners around here. Mrs. Obama: We do. The President: They’re not
always as cheerful and fun as this. (laughter) First of all,
everybody is older and a little stodgier. But this is a
much hipper crowd. More colorful outfits
— so I like that. But I also just love
seeing young people who are doing
wonderful things. We are so proud of you. To see the kind of
leadership you’re taking and the way that
you’ve really thrown yourselves into these projects is
just really inspiring. And sometimes people ask me, you know, Mr. President,
you have this really tough job and there is always stuff
happening all around the world, and how do you keep up with all of it and how do you
keep your spirits up? And my answer is, because
I meet young people every day who I know are
energetic and are full of great ideas and
are going to be continuing to make this country better. This is one way to do it. You guys are leaders in
your schools and in your communities, and
you’re helping to teach folks the importance of
good nutrition, the importance of putting good
fuel in your bodies so that you’re living healthy,
active lives. And by the way, one thing
— maybe I shouldn’t say this, but it’s not like
our family — including me — don’t have some
snacks once in a while — (laughter) — that may not be on the perfect nutrition chart. Mrs. Obama: It’s true. (laughter) The President:
Each of us have our weaknesses, so I’m going
to reveal some right now. Malia, ice cream. I mean, basically, it’s
very hard for her to turn down ice cream. But she has learned to
kind of control herself when it comes
to ice cream. Mrs. Obama: It’s hard. The President: It’s hard,
but she still has fun when she does have ice cream. In fact, the fact that she
doesn’t have ice cream every day means
when she has it — Mrs. Obama: It’s very special. The President: — it’s
like, hallelujah. She starts —
she is so happy. (laughter) Sasha — what
would you say is Sasha’s pig-out indulgence food? Mrs. Obama: She
likes sushi. The President: Oh, no. (laughter) Mrs. Obama:
It’s what she’s into. The President: She is kind
of into sushi right now. She’s a little — I love
sushi, so maybe I had some influence there. But let’s say — her pies. She pretty much takes
dessert whenever she can. Mrs. Obama: Pie. The President: Pie. She’s like me. My big thing —
chips and guacamole. (laughter) Basically, if
there is a bowl of good chips and guacamole — Mrs. Obama: He loses it. The President: —
I lose my mind. (laughter) I lose my mind. And the First Lady
— French fries. (laughter) Mrs. Obama: But
I’m going to say this. I’m making a vow — I’m
going to take a break from French fries. The President: Really? Mrs. Obama: Yes. The President:
Wow, that’s big. (laughter and applause) Now, the reason I make this point is that the
question is not can you never have anything —
it’s, on a day-to-day basis, at lunches, at
breakfast, at dinner, is your basic nutrition
something that’s going to make you strong and
make you healthy? And if it is, then having
fun food that may not be perfect for you,
that’s okay, too. But we’re just all trying
to develop good habits. And the one thing I know
about all these young people is they’ve got
great work habits, because, otherwise, they
wouldn’t have been able to do everything
that they’ve done. They’ve got great habits
of caring about other people, because they’re
out there spreading the word about what
they’re doing. And as a consequence, I’m
really optimistic about what all these great young
leaders are going to achieve in the future. So good luck. Have a great Kids State
Dinner — even though it’s technically lunch. (laughter) Calling it a
state lunch — there was a debate about this
and we thought — Mrs. Obama: It doesn’t work. The President: — it
doesn’t make sense, because we have
state dinners. So it’s a Kids State
Dinner, even though it’s noon. And parents, good
job, everybody. You’ve got great kids. (applause)

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