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Cranston 12-Year-Old Chosen as Rhode Island Winner for First Lady's 'Healthy Lunchtime Challenge'

Providence, R.I. - Governor Lincoln D. Chafee announced today that the Department of Environmental Management Communications Director Gail Mastrati of Cranston joined her daughter Samantha at the White House this past Tuesday for the second annual "Kids' State Dinner" in the East Room.

As part of her "Let's Move Initiative," a program aimed at fighting childhood obesity, First Lady Obama posed a healthy lunchtime challenge to kids nationwide to come up with a healthy and delicious lunch recipe. The winners were honored with an invitation to join the First Lady for lunch at the White House and a tour of the kitchen garden.

"On behalf of the State of Rhode Island, congratulations to Samantha who took up the challenge and created a winning nutritious lunchtime alternative that tastes good," said Governor Chafee. "Through Samantha's initiative to encourage healthy eating, she is inspiring young people to focus on good nutrition as well as come up with innovative ideas to lead healthier lifestyles."

"All of us at DEM are proud of and excited for Samantha! What an honor for her, and her family. DEM has worked closely with the Department of Health to promote fresh, local food, and active, outdoor activities. Young people like Samantha really get it! And, now, she comes straight from the White House, back to Rhode Island to spread the word," said Janet Coit, Director of the Department of Environmental Management.

The challenge was featured in the stylish culinary magazine, Epicurious. There were 1,300 entries and Samantha, a 12-year-old honor student at Western Hill Middle School, was among the winners. Her "Italian Garden Salsa with Crunchy Chicken Tenders" recipe was chosen as the top recipe submitted from Rhode Island.

Samantha has been cooking for a year. She plans to continue learning about food and coming up with new, healthy recipes for her family and friends to enjoy. She also makes an effort to stay fit by participating in activities such as dance and ice skating.

The full list of challenge winners can be found at the link below. A free, downloadable e-book of the winning recipes and photographs will be available in July at the contest site,,, and

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