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photo by Jerry Hagstrom

Grand Forks, N.D., farmer and daughter invited to White House Kids State Dinner

WASHINGTON—Stella Halverson, the 8-year old North Dakota girl whose recipe won the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and a trip to White House for the July 14  kids’ state dinner had a special reason for the ingredients in her dish: she is the descendant of potato growers and plans to be a potato grower.

The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge features a contest in each of the states and territories, and Halverson, who is from Grand Forks,  won the North Dakota contest with a recipe entitled “Red Potato Boat with 3 Bean Bison Chili.”

In an interview on the steps of the North Portico of the White House, Halverson said she had to start with potatoes because “we grow them and I am going to be a fifth generation potato farmer.”

Halverson added that she chose bison because “it’s healthier than beef and “roams where the live.” She chose the three beans—kidney, pinto and black—because  North Dakota produces them, she said.

Halverson said her favorite experience at the White House was visiting the Blue Rom.

Halverson was accompanied by her father, Eric, the CEO of potato grower-shipper Black Gold Farms.

Eric Halverson succeeded his father, Greg Halverson in 2014, although the elder Halverson remained president of the company’s board of directors.

Eric Halverson, formerly the company’s vice president of technology,  has been prominent in the potato industry, representing North Dakota on the board of Potatoes USA, a marketing organization.

First Lady Michelle Obama started the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and the dinner as part of her Let’s Move! campaign against childhood obesity and to promote the healthier rules for school meals under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.  This year’s dinner,  which resembles state dinners in every way except it was served at lunchtime and did not include alcohol, was the fifth and the last.

In her openting remarks, the first lady noted that the event and the  Let’s Move! initiative, aren’t “ just about eating well today. This is about setting kids like all of you up for a lifetime of healthy choices.

At the end of the event, the first lady said, the first lady said she was “sad that this is my last Kids’ state dinner, but it's not the last of the work that we're going to do on this issue, right?  So when I'm old and gray, I want to see you guys looking after me, making sure I'm eating my vegetables, right?  When you're standing here in charge of stuff, I want you to remember, you got to take care of little old Mrs. Obama.”