By Sam Borsos
Special to the Almanac
Picture this story: A child wins a contest and is awarded with the chance to eat wonderful food, take a tour of a famous building, and meet famous people. No, this is not the plot of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It's the experience of Rose Scott, a 12-year-old Menlo Park girl who dined at the White House on July 9 and met President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Rose, who attended the White House with her mother Jean Lum Hoy, was among 54 children who won the trip by creating recipes for the "Healthy Lunchtime Challenge" contest. The second annual contest, with 1,300 entries, was promoted by Michelle Obama to help stop childhood obesity.
The winners dined at the White House and toured its kitchen garden.
"They do take things seriously," said Ms. Lum Hoy of President Obama and the First Lady, who both appeared at the dinner. "They said to all of the kids, 'You're leaders. Pay it forward.' They care about healthy eating and they're trying to change how kids across America eat."
Ms. Lum Hoy, speaking from a phone at the airport, said that she and her daughter were still on a "White House high" from the excitement.
Both agreed that their favorite parts of the trip were seeing the president, who stopped by the dinner to shake hands with the contest winners, and talking to the First Lady.
"We got to meet her for a few minutes," said Rose of Michelle Obama. "I talked to her about how I was so excited to be there and how it was such an honor to meet her."
The dinner was made up of several winning dishes: spring rolls, a barley salad, and mini pizzas with cauliflower crust. Rose met friends from all over the country, including New Hampshire and Arkansas.
"It was such an incredible honor and such a privilege to meet these wonderful children and their parents who really care about their food," Ms. Lum Hoy said. "It was interesting to hear their stories and how they came up with their recipes."
Ms. Lum Hoy's family has been cautious of what they cook due to her 10-year-old son Galen's allergies to wheat and dairy. At her visit to the White House, she heard many other stories of how children got interested in healthy cooking.
"Some have food allergies like my son, some have recipes that they've been making for years, some parents are chefs," she said. "It was cool to see so many people interested in eating healthy and locally, and see that people care about what goes in their bodies."
Rose and her mother, along with the other winning contestants, also visited the White House kitchen garden.
"It was very cool," said Rose. "They had all kinds of vegetables and papayas and they also had a bee hive."
A cookbook containing all 54 winning recipes, is available online.