2014 White House Kids’ State Dinner

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    A couple weeks ago, I got the chance of a lifetime to attend the 3rd Annual 2014 White House Kids’ State Dinner hosted by The First Lady, Michelle Obama. The Kids’ State Dinner was held for 54 children, representing all U.S. states, three territories, and the District of Columbia. The 54 children won the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a nationwide recipe challenge, originated by Epicurious, to promote healthy lunches as part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. The challenge for 8-12 year olds was to create a lunchtime recipe that is healthy, affordable, original and delicious. Entries had to represent each of the food groups, either in one dish or as parts of a lunch meal, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy foods, with fruits and veggies making up roughly half the plate or recipe.

    I was invited to attend this event as media and to document the day. I seriously was so elated and walking on cloud 9. After the entire whirlwind event, I still couldn’t believe I was actually there and even walking around the White House grounds and on the South Lawn. Not to mention, be in the same room as the Obama’s! I work right next to the White House and I can see the White House from my office every day so getting this opportunity was just so amazing!

    Thank you to Pinterest who set me up with this once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s definitely something I’ll never forget!

    had to take a photograph of my PRESS badge! Haha, I felt so official!


    This room was set up so beautifully. Not a detail was missed!










    Loved the farm stand they had on stage! There were ‘bouquets’ of apples, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, zucchini, etc.


    Oh, so the above photos were during pre-set, where we could go setup our cameras and reserve our spots in the media section, which is why the room was empty. We were then taken back to the press briefing room…yes, this is where Obama gives his press briefings and actually, on this day, he had a briefing at 11:30 on the situation in Ukraine. Unfortunately, we were already taken upstairs for the event so I couldn’t stay to snap a photo of him in the briefing room, but I did snap a photo of where it all goes down!! For those of you that watch Scandal, can you see Fitz or Olivia or even Cyrus standing here?! Haha!


    The arrangements on the table were so beautifully arranged and thought out! The red spatulas, whisks, and spoons made up the below arrangement, along with red bell peppers and gerbera daisies!


    The White House executive chef, Sam Kass making his rounds before the lunch.


    And here we go! Mrs. Obama walking up to the podium!!




    Tanya Steel, Special Projects Editor, at Epicurious.com speaking


    Braeden Mannering gave a really heartfelt speech that actually made a bunch of people tear up, including the First Lady! Seriously, this kid is going places. He was last year’s Kids’ State Dinner winner from Delaware and he was inspired by the First Lady to pay it forward so when he got home, he created Brae’s Brown Bags, a service that delivers healthy snack bags to the homeless. You guys – HE’S TEN YEARS OLD and he’s already making such an impact in his community!!







    Oh, no big deal…The President of the United States decided to join us for lunch ;)








    The next series of photos makes me smile because Mr. and Mrs. Obama were talking about their guilt foods and foods they cannot resist. Mrs. Obama: French fries (my kinda lady!) and President Obama: ice cream. Malia and Sasha were brought into the convo too and I think Malia’s was sushi and Sasha’s was cookies. I’m not positive so don’t quote me on that!










    Lunch is served! Chicken and grape salad lettuce wraps, muffin tin egg white frittatas, and Mike’s chicken and vegetable dumpling cups.






    Grillin’ out veggie style black bean burger, quinoa sweet potato boat, and tomato cucumber salad as the main entrees.


    Sam Kass getting interviewed by a junior reporter


    “Get Your Goat” dessert


    The surprise performance this year was THE LION KING!!! They’re at the Kennedy Center right now and after this performance, where they performed Circle of Life, I’m desperately begging Jason to come see this with me! I love musicals!


    Anyone recognize this character? Rafiki!


















    The Kennedy Gardens


    Unreal I got to step foot on the South Lawn to capture this


    This is the White House Kitchen Garden


    The press had a chance to interview the kids from each state, if they so chose.


    Here’s the winner from Virginia! Sophie Haga, age 12. She won with her chia chicken pitas.


    So this is really cool – this is the White House beehive that Sam Kass had put in a couple years ago. They want to get awareness out about how the bee population is shrinking and they even set up a pollination garden for them. The White House brews their own honey ale and honey porter with the honey from this beehive!!


    Oh heyyyy ;)






    The event all happened so fast and it was over before I even knew it! It was such a fun experience and it was really neat to see the younger generation so interested in being in the kitchen and creating their own recipes. It’s great that they’re conscious about eating healthy and incorporating a healthy lifestyle into their every day lives. These kids have a bright future ahead of them and I hope they continue to create, develop their sophisticated palates, and never stop loving food! :)

    Julie Wampler of Table for Two
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  • Kristyn says:

    Really enjoyed this post (and the photos), Julie! What an amazing opportunity. Congrats again on making it out there!

  • Rachel says:

    Wow! Amazing experience. Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Julie says:

    What amazing photos and an experience of a lifetime! I’ve lived in NoVA almost my entire life and drive past the White House every day and it still stuns me at how beautiful it is.

  • Nichole says:

    This is awesome Julie!

  • Alyssa says:

    Wow! This is awesome, Julie. What an opportunity. Loving your blog.

  • Kelly says:

    What an amazing opportunity! Thanks for sharing your awesome photos!

  • Claire Gallam says:

    so cool Julie!!

  • Jenny Flake says:

    Julie!!! Wow, what an amazing experience. You captured it perfectly with your colorful photos. I would like to ask the first lady where she got her dress, lol! It’s fabulous :) Fun post, thanks for sharing!

    • Julie says:

      Hahaha, you crack me up, Jenny. Not gonna lie, I was wondering the same thing when she walked in!! Flawless as ever!

    • marla says:

      WOW!! Such a fun & memorable experience Julie. Lovely clicks of this entire event!

  • Meagan @ A Zesty Bite says:

    What an awesome experience and you did a great job documenting all of it.

  • Maria says:

    What an amazing opportunity!

  • Sarah Lou Nails says:

    What a cool experience!!

  • Amanda says:

    Love this post – how amazing that you got a backstage pass to it all! Thanks for sharing.

  • Deborah says:

    What an awesome experience! And I agree -those kids are going somewhere. Impressive!

  • Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health says:

    i was so looking forward to this post..this was definitely one of a kind experience and thank you so much for sharing with us.

  • Leah | So, How's It Taste? says:

    Wow, so cool! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  • Nutmeg Nanny says:

    What an amazing experience! Loved all the pictures :)

  • Heather Christo says:

    OMG- I am literally tearing up! What an absolutely amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity Julie- I am so excited for you to get to participate in something so special! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  • Liren says:

    What an incredible experience! I wish more children could experience this and the positive message of healthy foods.

  • Nikki @Seeded at the Table says:

    AMAZING! You really captured the perfect photos, Julie! So proud of you!

  • Lili says:

    I enjoyed so much this post and lovely colorful photos! How exciting to participate in this kind of event!

  • Anna Grace says:

    LOVE!!! That is so fun :)

  • Brenda says:

    Thank you for giving us a sneak peek at a really nice event.

  • Rachel @ Baked by Rachel says:

    The photos made me smile and I wasn’t even there!! Such an amazing opportunity!! :)

  • Paula Roe says:

    The Obamas are a wonderul family who set an example that good food can be
    grown, enjoyed and chosen.
    Thanks for sharing your special day.

  • Kirbie says:

    What a surreal experience! I’ve been so curious about what you were at the White House for. Your photos are gorgeous. I love all those fruit and vegetable flower centerpieces

  • Toni | BoulderLocavore says:

    Julie what fantastic coverage of this incredible event! I love that this mission has stayed so strong with Michelle Obama and it seems every detail was thought through with such care. Thank you for sharing so much for us to ride sidecar; it was like we were there too!

  • Aimee @ Simple Bites says:

    Agh!! I have been waiting for this post!!!
    What a thrilling time. Something to tell your kids about. Loved it!

  • Liz @ The Lemon Bowl says:

    This is so amazing Julie!!! You captured the event PERFECTLY!!! Thanks for bringing us along for the journey!!!

  • Erin B says:

    This is awesome! Thanks for sharing the photos too. What an honor to be there.

  • Gaby says:

    What an amazing day! Great photos!

  • Amy @ The Nifty Foodie says:

    Awesome photos! What an amazing opportunity!

  • Tieghan says:

    What a cool event and such an awesome day! Love the photos too!

  • Carrie says:

    What an incredible day for you and the children. A memory day for sure. Thanks for sharing.

  • nicole says:

    What a blessing!!! And may you enjoy many more to come…
    You really captured the experience for us…
    Thank you for that!…
    God bless you Julie

  • Anna says:

    That is so cool! The pics turned out amazing! I had no idea about the bee hive. I would love to try their Ale!!!! Also – that is so cool that you got to see the President and the First Lady!!! Ahh!!! Way fun! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Kathryn says:

    What a totally once in a lifetime opportunity!

  • Erin says:

    love! looks like such an amazing time. so cool that you were able to attend. i would have been pinching myself the entire time, for sure!! :)

  • Ali | Gimme Some Oven says:

    What an AMAZING DAY! I love every detail about this from start to finish. Awesome job photographing and sharing the stories with us! :)

  • Marisa says:

    Julie thank you from Spain, I enjoyed very much with your nice experience, with your photos, topics and everything!

  • Trude says:

    This is sooooo cool! Congrats on the opportunity, and the fabulous photos!

  • Jennifer @ Mother Thyme says:

    Wow, so cool! What an amazing opportunity! I was anxious to read about this! I’m sure this is an experience you will never forget!

  • bev @ bevcooks says:

    That’s incredible!!

  • Mary Frances says:

    What an amazing opportunity! And, it’s so cool that these kids are learning to cook healthy food for themselves.

  • Liz @ FloatingKitchen says:

    What a GREAT opportunity, Julie! Loved reading this post!

  • Stephanie @ Macaroni and Cheesecake says:

    What an amazing opportunity!! That is so awesome that you got to do this!

  • Ashley says:

    I was there with my winning son from Oklahoma! I found this article on Pinterest. I am about to blog about this as well but my photos are nowhere as colorful and vivid as yours. I “just” used my iPhone. Thanks for capturing the event. We had the time of our lives!

    • Julie says:

      That’s so awesome! I’m so glad you found this post :) congrats to your son!!

  • Ashley Lemaster says:

    We were the first ones out to the garden and the picture of the garden and the boy/mom is actually us! There were so many photographers out there and this is the first picture of us I have come across. Any chance I could get a jpeg of it? He is wearing a coral shirt and I’m in a black dress ;)

    • Julie says:

      Aww I’m so glad you found the photo on my blog! Sure, I’d be happy to send you a copy. I’m traveling right now but I’ll get it to you when I get home.

      • Ashley Lemaster says:

        I would still love the photo of us in the garden. I would also love a photo of the President and First Lady if you are able to share. The experience was 18 months ago and he still gets invited to speak about the event at times. I am so thankful that we are able to pass this experience on to other kids. This is a day we will remember our entire lives!

        • Julie says:

          Hi Ashley – I just sent you an email.

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