February 20, 2018
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Waterville student Noah Koch honored at Kids’ State Dinner July 9 at White House

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 WASHINGTON, D.C. — At the start of the new school year, when asked, “What did you do over your summer vacation?,” few in Maine will be able to top Mount Merici Academy student Noah Koch’s answer: “I was honored at the White House and met President Obama.”  

Noah, 9, will enter the fourth grade at Mount Merici Academy, a Catholic school (PK-6) in Waterville, in September. But on Tuesday, July 9, he was honored as part of the Kids’ State Dinner at the White House after being selected as a winner in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a recipe contest for kids across the country that promotes healthy eating for children in the United States. The contest is part of Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, a program developed to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity. Fifty-four winners from more than 1,300 entries were selected, including Noah’s recipe for Vegan Powerhouse Pesto Pasta.

“Noah’s younger brother has serious health issues and making food that everyone can eat can be challenging,” said Noah’s mom, Hilary. “This recipe is gluten-free and vegan; things that many people often think mean sacrificing favorite comfort foods or flavor. It took us a while to create a pesto recipe that was tasty, super healthy, and easy to make.”

Each recipe had to meet the USDA’s healthy meal criteria and had to represent each of the five food groups. Fruits and vegetables were required to be part of at least half of the recipe.

President Obama made a surprise appearance at the dinner and went around to each table to meet the winners, including Noah.

“Usually, at a state dinner, I get invited, so I don’t know what happened on this one,” President Obama said. “I hear the food is pretty good.”

The kids, ranging in age from 8 to 12, even got to experience an arrival ceremony in which they were officially announced as they made their way through the booksellers’ entrance of the White House. After the meal, recipe winners were treated to a performance by 15-year-old singer Rachel Crow before getting a tour of the White House kitchen garden.

For a link to Noah’s winning recipe, visit: http://www.epicurious.com/images/pdf/TheEpicuriousHealthyLunchtimeChallengeCookbook2013.pdf

For more information, or to contact the Koches, call Wendy Misuinas, director of development at Mount Merici Academy, at 873-3773, or e-mail her at wmisuinas@mountmerici.org.