First Lady’s contest turns kids into chefs
First Lady Michelle Obama’s latest initiative to promote healthy lifestyles for America’s youth will give some lucky kids the opportunity to dine at the White House this summer.
“The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge” challenges children, ages 8 to 12, to create nutritious lunch recipes. The winning children and their parents or guardians will be flown to Washington, D.C. to attend the second Kids’ “State Dinner.” There, a selection of the healthy recipes will be served.
The contest is also sponsored by recipe website Epicurious, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“We know healthy kids are healthy students, and healthy students are better able to engage in the classroom and excel academically,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a statement. “Kids are the best judges of what looks and tastes good. So, we’re challenging them to create lunches that all their peers will enjoy.”
However, encouraging children to maintain healthy eating habits can be easier said than done.
According to Jenylle Rys, the supervisor for child and older adult services at Advocate Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center, it is important to give children ownership over making healthy food choices.
“Childhood obesity is serious,” Rys says. “Having ownership may get them interested in the new foods.” Rys suggests that parents should have their children help them in the kitchen and assist in packing their own school lunches.
“Make it fun,” she advises. For example, parents with particularly picky children can try cutting the foods into fun shapes.
Ultimately, parents need to know how they can help their children succeed. That could mean stocking up on nutritious food and leaving plenty of time for kids to be kids, Rys says.
“Take them to the park and let them run, jump, and have fun. Exercise doesn’t have to be structured to be beneficial,” Rys said. “Make it easy for them to make healthier choices that they are proud of.”
If they do, their recipe may end up in the White House.
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