PBS Healthy Lunchtime Challenge sends Appleton girl to White House

July 28, 2015 Wisconsin Public Television Leave a Comment

When Jennifer Ganser, a health coach for ThedaCare in Appleton, first read about the PBS Healthy Lunchtime Challenge on Epicurious, she knew right away that it was a good opportunity for her family.

“I love cooking and so I thought, ‘hey, we could probably do this together,'” said Jennifer.

The nationwide recipe contest encourages children to cook and eat healthy and culminating with a state dinner hosted by first lady Michelle Obama, with winners attending from each state and territory.

Jennifer’s 10-year-old daughter, Anna Ganser, jumped in right away, and the family started collaborating on recipe ideas.

“I just thought it would be neat to meet the first lady and go to the Capitol. I like roasted vegetables and cucumbers, so we started there and decided on the Mediterranean idea,” said Anna.

After choosing several finalists, chefs re-created each recipe in Washington for a panel of judges who rated each dish by taste, nutritional value and affordability. After weeks of waiting, the Gansers were able to celebrate.

“When heard the news, I came home and told (Anna) in person,” Jennifer said. “All of her sisters were home, and it was a big party for a while.”

Anna’s invitation to the White House was also her first chance to visit Washington D.C., so the Gansers decided to turn it into a family vacation. After biking around the city’s monuments, touring the Capitol building, and visiting the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Anna and her dad headed to the White House.

“The White House was really nice, and formal and elegant,” Anna said. “At the lunch they served my dish. I was really excited and happy about that, because not everyone’s dish got served. (Michelle) was really nice. We also got to meet the president. Everyone shook his hand. He talked about healthy eating, how it’s important and that he’s proud of us.”

Anna’s experience went far beyond her recipe and the state luncheon, and she hopes to continue cooking, sharing her love of healthy eating with her friends.

“I learned that we have to help everyone eat healthy,” Anna said. “I’m going to do a cooking demonstration for my mom’s work. I’m going to show them how to make the dish, and talk about healthy eating.”

For Jennifer, Michelle Obama’s message and the PBS contest was a welcome reinforcement of the work she does each day in Appleton.

“I’m really excited that (Michelle) is promoting good old-fashioned healthy eating and exercise,” Jennifer said. “The whole point of this is teaching people that healthy eating can taste good. They really wanted to get through to the kids that they’re role models. Now they’re ambassadors of health.”

1 thought on “PBS Healthy Lunchtime Challenge sends Appleton girl to White House”

  • Larry Davis says:

    Michelle Obama has been a very good “First Lady.” She is strong, visible, and committed to healthy food. We are lucky to have her.
    I viewed her running on a news show and it was the first time I ever saw a first lady do that. Then the next week I saw her boxing a bag: another first.

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