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Alex Brandon  /  AP
Chef Cat Cora, right, cuts greens with Matthew Louhman, 7, from Hollin Meadows Elementary School in Alexandria, Va.,as they prepare a salad from the harvest from the White House Kitchen Garden, Friday, June 4, 2010, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.
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updated 6/4/2010 3:13:16 PM ET 2010-06-04T19:13:16

School lunches that are good for kids — and kids will actually eat? That's a job for America's top chefs.

First lady Michelle Obama recruited hundreds of chefs gathered on the South lawn of the White House Friday to join her anti-obesity campaign and help schools serve healthier, tastier meals.

Mrs. Obama is asking the chefs to partner with individual schools and work with teachers and parents to help educate kids about food and nutrition. She said healthy meals at schools are more important than ever as many children get most of their calories there.

"You can make a salad bar fun — now that's something," she said.

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Rachael Ray, Tom Colicchio, Cat Cora and other celebrity chefs joined Mrs. Obama and children from a local school. They picked arugula, baby spinach, rhubarb and other vegetables from her garden on the lawn. The chefs showed the children how to wash, dice and cook the veggies as they all made a grilled chicken salad and rhubarb strawberry crisp together.

In addition to helping in school kitchens, Mrs. Obama encouraged the chefs to do cooking demonstrations, form cooking clubs, integrate food into lesson plans and help children plant vegetables in school gardens.

She also said they'll have to be patient with schools and learn how they work.

"They're going to need your support, but it's got to be a collaboration," she said. "And we strongly encourage you all to go in with that spirit."

Other well-known chefs participating in the event included Jose Andres and Marcus Samuelsson. Samuelsson helped prepare the Obamas' first state dinner in November in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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