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  Release No. 0417.11
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  USDA Highlights MyPlate: Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables
  Launches the MyPlate Fruits and Vegetables Video Challenge
 

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 26, 2011 – Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined local leaders and nutrition advocates to encourage Americans to 'Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables,' the first themed message supporting the new MyPlate food icon. Vilsack also announced that support for MyPlate reached a historic milestone with more than 4,000 organizations joining the MyPlate Nutrition Communicators Network – double the number of partners announced in July. Vilsack urged partners across the nation to keep the enthusiasm and momentum going by participating in the MyPlate Fruits and Veggies Video Challenge. USDA is encouraging all individuals and teams to submit inspiring and instructive videos that provide innovative, easy, and practical tips on how to 'Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables.'

"By tapping into American creativity we can help families focus on healthier food choices and to make half their plate fruit and vegetables," said Vilsack. "America's abundant and nutritious food supply is one of the most affordable in the world, and increasing our consumption of fruits and vegetables will go a long way toward reversing overweight and obesity, not only for children but for all Americans."

The video challenge supports First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative, which is dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity. The videos can be songs, skits, or how-to videos, as long as they include useful information on how to add more fruits and vegetables to the diet on a budget. Each video should feature one tip, must include the message "Make half your plate fruits and vegetables," and should direct viewers to visit the ChooseMyPlate.gov website.

There will be a total of $9,000 in prize money for the three categories: (1) Tips for Kids, (2) Tips When Eating at Home, and (3) Tips When Eating Away from Home. There will also be a Popular Choice Award. Judging will be done through a combination of USDA panels and public voting. Winning submissions will be used on the ChooseMyPlate.gov website and will be highlighted by MyPlate communications partners. Administration of the video challenge is provided by USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Winners will be announced on December 14th. For more details on the video challenge, go to FruitsAndVeggies.challenge.gov

Between September 2011 and December 2013, USDA will lead a coordinated, multi-year, multi-modal, messaging approach among public and private sector partners to help USDA amplify the consumer themes and related nutrition messages outlined in the Dietary Guidelines. Resources, such as "how-tos," supporting messages, and educational materials, will be provided to support each message at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. Communication themes include: Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables, Enjoy Your Food But Eat Less of It, Make at least half your grains whole grains, and Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises consumers to eat more vegetables and fruits because most Americans do not consume the recommended quantities or variety. Food prices, along with taste, convenience, income, and awareness of the link between diet and health, shape food choices. USDA issues four Food Plans (Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate-Cost, and Liberal) that show people how to eat a healthy diet at various cost levels. By following USDA's Low-Cost Food Plan, a family can eat a healthier diet, including more vegetables and fruits, at less than what they are spending on food.

USDA estimates that an adult on a 2,000-calorie diet could satisfy recommendations for vegetable and fruit consumption (amounts and variety) in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans at an average cost of $2 to $2.50 per day. For more information visit' How Much Do Fruits and Vegetables Cost?'

ChooseMyPlate.gov provides practical information to individuals, health professionals, nutrition educators, and the food industry to help consumers build healthier diets with resources and tools for dietary assessment, nutrition education, and other user-friendly nutrition information. As Americans are experiencing epidemic rates of overweight and obesity, the online resources and tools can empower people to make healthier food choices for themselves, their families, and their children. Later this year, USDA will unveil an exciting "go-to" online tool that consumers can use to personalize and manage their dietary and physical activity choices.

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