First Lady Launches Lunch Contest For Kids' 'State Dinner'

Image credit: Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert - First lady Michelle Obama, Sam Kass, Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives, and Top Chef head judge Tom Colicchio, center, watch as chefs from past seasons of ?Top Chef" and students take part in a cooking competition at the Kleberg Rylie Recreation Center in Dallas, Texas, Feb. 10, 2012.

Calling all kids who enjoy making healthy lunches with their families. The first lady is giving you a chance to show the country what you can do in the kitchen.

Michelle Obama and Epicurious, in conjunction with the departments of Education and Agriculture, are launching a nationwide recipe challenge to promote healthy lunches, and the winners will get an invitation to the White House for the first-ever kids' "State Dinner."

"We all want to ensure that our kids are eating nutritious, delicious food at every meal, and as a mom I know that parents are always looking for new ideas to make that happen," the first lady said in a statement announcing the contest. "With parents and kids all across the country getting creative in the kitchen, I know we'll find healthy meals that every family will enjoy.  And I can't wait to try the kids' creations myself."

The "Healthy Lunchtime Challenge" invites parents and their children, ages 8-12, to create an original lunchtime recipe that is "healthy, affordable, and tasty." The recipe contest is open for entries now until June 17.

Participants are encouraged to reference the USDA's "MyPlate" nutritional guidelines when developing their recipes. "Entries should represent each of the food groups, either in one dish or as parts of a lunch meal, including fruit, veggies, whole grains, protein and low-fat dairy foods," the contest announcement stated.

Fifty-six adult-child teams - one winner from each of the 50 states, plus the U.S. Territories, D.C., and Puerto Rico - will be flown to the nation's capital and have the chance to attend the Kids' "State Dinner" at the White House in August, where a selection of the winning recipes will be served.  Winners will be notified on July 16.

The winning recipes will be published online in an e-cookbook that features nutritional analysis, photos and drawings of the recipes.

The contest is part of the first lady's "Let's Move!" initiative to fight childhood obesity.