The President and First Lady Speak at the 2015 Kids’ “State Dinner”

Abby Cornwell:
Congratulations to all of you. Give yourselves a big
round of applause. (applause) I want to thank the First
Lady for having all of us here today to
celebrate healthy cooking, caring about us, and inspiring
us to eat healthy every day. Also, Tanya Steel for helping
with this amazing contest. I learned from both of
them that if you ask and try hard, you can make
big things happen. You both are an inspiration
to everyone here. (applause) I remember sitting in the
(inaudible) last year with a huge smile on my face
and so surprised I was in the White House –
isn’t it incredible? (laughter) This is an event you’ll
never forget; flying to Washington DC, making new
friends that I did last year with a new friend from Alabama,
meeting the First Lady and having this once in
a lifetime opportunity. Eating healthy is so
important; especially trying new fruits and vegetables. Great ideas to make healthy
eating fun are trying — planting a garden at your
house or at school, or even going to a
local farmers market. I’m always proud that I
take a bite of a fruit or vegetable that I grew. Also, cooking with your
family is so much fun. This year, I was able to
help make and serve 1,500 servings of my winning
dish from last year; Sunrise Tuscan Chicken to all
the kids in my school system. They loved it and it was
fun to see how excited they were to try new foods. Mrs. Obama asked us last
year to serve as ambassadors; to pay this amazing opportunity
forward; to make a difference. When I returned home
after attending the Kids State Dinner, I
tried to think of way to pay it forward. At the event last year, I
learned that some of the kids at my school that didn’t
have breakfast didn’t do as well at school. I knew that some of the kids
either didn’t have a healthy breakfast or didn’t have
anything to eat at all. And breakfast is the most
important meal of the day. I thought of food that lasts
that kids could eat once they got to school and apples
seemed to the best idea. I came up with the idea
of ‘Apples from Abby.’ I was able to get
Gordon Food Service to help donate the
apples for my program. I wanted to make sure students
wouldn’t be embarrassed and any student was
welcome to take an apple. I placed the basket of apples
on each teachers’ desk and when student didn’t have
breakfast or a healthy snack, they could take an apple. I refilled the
baskets every week. At the end of the school year,
I delivered 9,000 apples. (laughter and applause) This is your chance
to dream big, to be extraordinary,
to make a difference. Now, this is the moment that all
of us have been waiting for. I’m so honored and excited
to introduce the First Lady of the United States,
Michelle Obama. (applause) Mrs. Obama: I see tears. (laughter) I do. Wow, Abby, amazing. We’re so proud of you. Man, good stuff! Very good stuff. You guys, welcome
to the White House. Let’s say that again —
welcome to the White House! (applause) This is the whole
house’s favorite event — the Kids’ State Dinner. Look at this place. Do you know how many people
put time and effort into making this as amazing
as it can be for you? So let’s give everyone
who helped put this event together a wonderful
round of applause. (applause) And I want to
again thank Abby for her amazing introduction,
but more importantly, for listening to what I said
about paying it forward. I thank you. (laughter) I need you
to talk to my children. (laughter) Listen to me. (laughter) Abby, great job. So proud of you,
babe, really. I also want to thank
PBS and WGBH Boston for their tremendous generosity
in sponsoring our Kids’ State Dinner and our
Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. So I want to give them
another round of applause. (applause) And, of
course, to Tanya. Tanya, this is just
a great partnership. You are amazing. There you are. The work you do is amazing. And it’s always so much fun
seeing you here at this event. Thank you for everything
that you do year after year. I also want to
acknowledge all the folks from the
Department of Education and the Department
of Agriculture. They make a fabulous set
of partners on so much of the work that we do. And I know we have
representatives from those departments here,
so I want to thank you all for the great
work that you do. Well done. And how about we give a
shout-out to the parents and siblings and
grandparents who — yes — (laughter) — who got you
all here today. Let’s give them a
round of applause. (applause) We want to say officially
thank you, families, for encouraging these
young people — even when they made a
mess in the kitchen. But I’m sure they
cleaned up, too. Right? (laughter) Thank you all. Thank you for raising and
being part of raising such wonderful young
men and women. And it’s wonderful
to have you all here. They couldn’t do it without
you and without that support. So we are celebrating
you all as well. And finally, most of all,
congratulations to all of this year’s 55 Healthy Lunchtime
Challenge winners! (applause) That’s you! And you, and you! Yes! Just so that our press
understands — welcome press — (laughter) — all our
young press people. This is the only time we
let kids in the press pool. You guys do your jobs. Do your jobs over there. Don’t let the grown-ups
push you out of the way. (laughter) Nearly 1,000 kids
entered this contest — 1,000! Right? This was a real competition. But after countless hours of
prepping and taste-testing your recipes, our panel of
distinguished judges — some of whom are here
today, including Deb — she ate every bite — (laughter) — decided that your meals
were the healthiest, tastiest, and most fun
dishes to cook and to eat! So you had many
hurdles to overcome. It had to be healthy,
tasty, and good to eat, and you did it! Yes! (applause) Fabulous! And you look so good! (laughter) You all are so
handsome and gorgeous. So you can cook and your
smart and you look great, and you’re here at
the White House. It’s just wonderful. You blew the judges away with
your talent and creativity. You included fruits
and veggies from every color of the rainbow
in your recipes. You used all kinds of
ingredients — flax seed — do any of the adults even
know what flax seed is? (laughter) Cumin, and we have yellow
miso paste that was included in one of the recipes
— pretty sophisticated. And you came up with some of
the catchiest recipe names imaginable — one of my
favorites, Mango-Cango Chicken. Who is our Mango — where is
our Mango-Cango young man? There you are. Mango-Cango. (applause) We had Fizzle
Sizzle Stir Fry. Who created Fizzle
Sizzle Stir Fry? Where is our —
there you go! And then, Sam’s Southern
Savoring Salmon Supreme — or S to the 5th power. (laughter) Sam, was that you? (applause) And so many more. You guys have the menus. We’re tasting just
a few of them. One is the Mic-Kale Obama
Slaw — what is that? I love that one. And your reasons for
creating these dishes were as varied as the
ingredients, as Tanya said. Some of you play sports
and you realize that you need good nutrition
to be able to compete. As Hannah Betts
— where’s Hannah? Hannah, where are you? Hannah! This is what Hannah Betts,
our winner from Connecticut, said — this is her
quote — she said, “I do gymnastics and
swimming, so I need food that is going to fill me up and
give me lots of energy.” Outstanding. For some of you, cooking is a
way to bond with your families and relive happy memories
from when you were little. And that’s why Felix Gonzalez
— Felix, where are you? There you go, there you go. You told me this story
in the photo line. He’s from Puerto Rico. He created his “Wrap it Up”
chicken wrap — and this is his quote — he said, “I
decided to make this dish as a wrap because I
was thinking about the fun times when my dad wrapped
me up as a burrito — (laughter) — with a blanket when I
was a small child.” Yeah, cool, dude. Cool. (laughter) Some of you
became interested in cooking because you
were worried about your friends’ unhealthy
eating habits. Something that I try to work
with my friends on all the time. Now, Izzy Washburn from
Kentucky actually did — this is Izzy —
raise your hand. Izzy right there. She did a science experiment
comparing school lunches to the lunches her friends
brought from home, and the school lunches
turned out to be healthier, according to
your experiment. And that wasn’t
always the case. We all know that we’ve
seen some tremendous improvements in our school
lunches over these years. And it actually took a whole
lot of work by people in your school cafeterias to actually
accomplish this goal. Back in 2010, based on some
advice that we got from doctors and nutritionists and
scientists in this country, we realized that we needed to
improve the quality of school meals by adding fruits and
veggies and whole grains. And it required a lot
— a little energy to make that happen, a
little pushing back. But right now, today,
95 percent of schools in this country are now
meeting those new standards. And that’s a wonderful
achievement. (applause) So now tens of
millions of kids are now getting better nutrition
every single day. Just like Abby pointed out,
there are many kids who go to school and they
don’t have breakfast, and breakfast is the most
important meal of the day. So you imagine, now the
schools all over this country are providing that kind of
nutrition so kids who might not get that nutrition at home
are getting it at school. This is an important
step forward. And I know you guys all
agree because you understand the importance
of healthy eating. So I know that Izzy
certainly believes so. This is her quote — she said,
“It’s important to teach my friends what good choices
look like and how what fuel they choose for
their bodies affects how they perform
throughout their day.” Very wise for such a
little-bitty person. (laughter) And that’s why we created
Let’s Move and started hosting these Kids’ State
Dinners — because, as Abby said in her
remarks, we want you guys to be ambassadors and to
talk about healthy eating in your schools and
in your communities. So that’s really one of the
things — one of the things you will do to pay for this
opportunity is that you’re going to pay it forward, and
hopefully when you go back, you’ll not only share this
experience with your friends and family, but you’ll also talk
about why we’re doing this. Because a lot of kids don’t
understand that food is fuel in a very fundamental way. And sometimes they don’t
listen to grown-ups, and they don’t listen
to the First Lady. But many of them will
listen to you because you’re living proof
of that reality. So I want you to kind of
think about how you can move this issue forward
in your communities. What more can you do
when you get back home to continue this
conversation and to engage more young people in the
work that you all do. That’s the only thing that I
ask of you — and just to keep being the amazing, wonderful
human beings that you are. We developed this really cool
— we worked with a PR firm to develop this really cool
campaign for fruits and vegetables called FNV. And it’s being piloted in
certain parts of the country. The idea behind the campaign
is very simple: If unhealthy foods can have all kinds of
advertisements and celebrity endorsements, then why
can’t we do that for fruits and vegetables? Right? So we’ve got Jessica Alba
involved, and Colin Kaepernick, and Nick Jonas, and Steph Curry. I just saw a full-page ad in
a paper with Steph in a suit and a basketball, talking about
the importance of veggies. And so many other athletes
and celebrities have signed up to show their support
for fruits and vegetables. And now we need you
guys to sign up. You can get involved
in this campaign. It involves T-shirts and
fans and sweat bands, and there are things that
you can do to be engaged — lot of fun. All you have to do is go
to to check it out and figure out how you
can join the FNV Team. And you guys will be among the
first ambassadors through FNV. So, soon as you get out of
here — don’t pull out any phones right now. (laughter) Go to FNV and
check it out. And then tell us what
you think — because we want your feedback. So really, there’s so many
ways that you guys can be leaders in your
communities and help us build a healthier country
for generations to come. And with your
award-winning recipes, you’re already
well on your way. And I’m so proud of
everything you all are doing. The President is so proud of
everything you all are doing. And I just want you all
to keep going, have fun. And now we get to eat. (laughter) We get to try some of the
— yes, we get to eat. (laughter) So bon appétit, everyone. (laughter) Let’s get going! Let’s eat! (applause) Oh, wait! Wait! We have one more thing — (applause) I’m sorry. I know you’re hungry, but I’d
like to introduce to you guys the President of
the United States. (applause) The President:
Good to see you! Hello, everybody! How are you? (applause) So, everybody
can have a seat. Have a seat. I’m sorry to crash
your little party here. (laughter) But I just wanted
to say hi to everybody. And I wanted to let
you know that, first of all, I’m very proud
of everything that my outstanding
wife has done — (applause) — when it comes to healthy
eating and Let’s Move. And we’re celebrating the fifth
anniversary of Let’s Move. So, you guys move? Audience: Yes! The President: You
guys are movers? Okay. You guys look pretty
healthy, I got to admit. This is a
good-looking group. (laughter) Mrs. Obama:
A good-looking group. The President: And so I also
just wanted to let you know that although I can’t
stay and eat right now, that I’ve looked over the menu
and the food looks outstanding. I particularly am impressed
with the Barackamole. (laughter) So I’m expecting
people to save me a little sampling of the Barackamole. I also noticed that there
are a lot of good vegetables on the menu, including my
favorite vegetable — broccoli. (laughter) Did somebody
raise their hand? Mrs. Obama: Well, I told
these two that was your favorite vegetable. The President: You
didn’t believe me? (laughter) It’s true,
I love broccoli. I eat it all the time. Anybody else
love broccoli? Audience: Yes. The President: That’s
what I’m talking about. (laughter) So I know that all your
parents are so proud of you for having come up with
these outstanding recipes. And the reason it’s so
important for you guys to be here and to be doing
what you’re doing is because the truth is, is that
parents, it turns out, don’t always have the
most influence — (laughter) — in terms of
encouraging young people to eat healthy. What really helps is when
their friends at school are all, like, oh,
you’re having chips? I’m sorry, I’m having
the Barackamole. (laughter) And then, because
you’re a cool kid, suddenly the other kids
are all, like, well, if that cool kid
is eating broccoli, maybe I should try
that broccoli out. So you guys are setting a
great example for all your friends in school and
in the neighborhoods, and we’re really proud
of you for that. All right? So I’m proud of you. And I hope you guys
have a wonderful dinner. And I’m going to come around
and shake hands with people, but I can’t take selfies
with everybody because I’ve actually got just a
few other things to do. (laughter) So that would
end up taking too long. All right? But you can take pictures
while I’m shaking hands. I just can’t,
like, pose and — (laughter) — all that stuff. Oops — that’s okay,
I get nervous, too. (laughter) Whenever I’m at state
dinners I’m always spilling stuff. (laughter) Thank you, everybody. Mrs. Obama: Let’s eat! The President: Let’s eat! (applause)

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *