Barack Obama photo

Remarks at the Kids' State Dinner

July 18, 2014

The President. Hello, everybody! I am not going to hold up the meal. Everybody, sit down. [Laughter] I just wanted to come by because I love the event. First of all, we have a lot of state dinners around here.

The First Lady. We do.

The President. They're not always as cheerful and fun as this. [Laughter] First of all, everybody is older and a little stodgier. But this is a much hipper crowd. More colorful outfits—so I like that. But I also just love seeing young people who are doing wonderful things. We are so proud of you. To see the kind of leadership you're taking and the way that you've really thrown yourselves into these projects is just really inspiring.

And sometimes, people ask me, you know, Mr. President, you have this really tough job, and there's always stuff happening all around the world, and how do you keep up with all of it and how do you keep your spirits up? And my answer is, because I meet young people every day who I know are energetic and are full of great ideas and are going to be continuing to make this country better. This is one way to do it. You guys are leaders in your schools and in your communities, and you're helping to teach folks the importance of good nutrition, the importance of putting good fuel in your bodies so that you're living healthy, active lives.

And by the way, one thing—maybe I shouldn't say this, but it's not like our family, including me, don't have some snacks once in a while—[laughter]—that may not be on the perfect nutrition chart.

The First Lady. It's true. [Laughter]

The President. Each of us have our weaknesses, so I'm going to reveal some right now.

The First Lady. Uh-oh.

The President. Malia, ice cream. I mean, basically, it's very hard for her to turn down ice cream. But she has learned to kind of control herself when it comes to ice cream.

The First Lady. It's hard.

The President. It's hard, but she still has fun when she does have ice cream. In fact, the fact that she doesn't have ice cream every day means when she has it——

The First Lady. It's very special.

The President.——it's like, hallelujah. She starts—she is so happy. [Laughter] Sasha—what would you say is Sasha's pig-out indulgence food?

The First Lady. She's into—it's not a—she likes sushi.

The President. Oh, no. [Laughter]

The First Lady. It's what she's into. The President. She is kind of into sushi right now. She's a little—I love sushi, so maybe I had some influence there. But let's say for—her pies. She pretty much takes dessert whenever she can.

The First Lady. Pies.

The President. Pie. She's like me. My big thing: chips and guacamole. [Laughter] Like, basically, if there is a bowl of good chips and guacamole——

The First Lady. He loses it.

The President. I lose my mind. [Laughter] I lose my mind. And the First Lady: french fries. [Laughter]

The First Lady. But I'm going to say this. I'm making a vow: I'm going to take a break from french fries.

The President. Really?

The First Lady. Yes.

The President. Wow, that's big. [Laughter]

The First Lady. On the record. I put it out there.

The President. Now, the reason I make this point is that the question is not, can you never have anything. It's, on a day-to-day basis, at lunches, at breakfast, at dinner, is your basic nutrition something that's going to make you strong and make you healthy? And if it is, then having fun food that may not be perfect for you, that's okay too.

But we're just all trying to develop good habits. And the one thing I know about all these young people is, they've got great work habits, because otherwise, they wouldn't have been able to do everything that they've done. They've got great habits of caring about other people, because they're out there spreading the word about what they're doing. And as a consequence, I'm really optimistic about what all these great young leaders are going to achieve in the future.

So good luck. Have a great Kids' State Dinner, all right? Even though it's technically a lunch. [Laughter] Calling it a state lunch—there was a debate about this, and we thought——

The First Lady. It doesn't work.

The President.——it doesn't make sense, because we have state dinners. So it's a Kids' State Dinner, even though it's noon. All right?

And parents, good job, everybody. You've got great kids.

NOTE: The President spoke at approximately 12:30 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of the First Lady and Let's Move! Executive Director and Senior Policy Adviser for Nutrition Policy Sam Kass.

Barack Obama, Remarks at the Kids' State Dinner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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