Tag Archives: PBS Parents

Wisconsin Girl Treated To “State Dinner” at the White House

Eating healthy paid off in a big way for Wisconsin’s Raya Al Hajjar. The eight-year-old submitted a recipe to the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and Kids’ “State Dinner” that was so good, it earned her a dinner with First Lady Michelle Obama last month.

The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge promotes cooking and healthy eating by asking kids ages 8-12 to prepare original recipes that are healthy, affordable and tasty. The recipes are judged, and winners from all 50 states are invited to a “State Dinner” at the White House.

Raya presented a Wisconsin cranberry chickpea salad that features parsley and lemon to give it a little twist. She was inspired by her family’s Palestinian background and the fact that her mom and grandma cook with chickpeas a lot.

Recipe: Wisconsin Cranberry Chickpea Salad

Now that she has the First Lady’s attention, how else does Raya plan to promote healthy eating? For one, she’d like to bring more attention to food choices in schools. “The milk, for instance, has so much sugar in it — it makes the kids have too much energy and it makes it hard to concentrate.”

“I can attest to that,” says Raya’s guardian, Marcia Mihdawi. “I’m a teacher, and after lunch you can really tell which students have had proper nutrition.”

Raya says the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge had a significant impact on her, and she offers this advice to any kids thinking about entering the contest next year, “…You have to be interested in healthy eating, you have to do it all the time and you have to want to help other people.”

See all of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winners and get a free downloadable e-cookbook of the winning recipes.

Healthy Eating has its Rewards

The place setting for the Kids' State Dinner in the East Room of the White House, July 18, 2014.
This seat at the Kids’ State Dinner in the White House could be all yours!

A little creativity could earn you and your kids a seat at a state dinner in the White House.

The 4th annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ “State Dinner” is seeking out original recipes that are healthy, creative, affordable, delicious and original. One recipe from each of the 50 states will be chosen, and the prize is an opportunity to attend the Kids’ “State Dinner” hosted by Mrs. Obama at the White House.

So dig into the family cookbook for a favorite recipe or help your kids create a new recipe from scratch. Need some inspiration? Check out all the 2014 winning recipes, including Amazing African Sweet Potato Stew from Wisconsin chef Sarah.

Find more details and submit your recipe at pbs.org/lunchtimechallenge. Entries must be received by April 30…so get cooking!