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Kids' State Dinner Celebrates Good Nutrition with MyPlate

On July 9th, budding young chefs gathered at the White House for the Let's Move! Kids’ State Dinner, hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, to celebrate their culinary accomplishments in the Epicurious “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge”Let’s Move!, Epicurious, the U.S. Department of Education, and USDA collaborated on the challenge and honored the 54 finalists who created the winning recipes at last week’s celebration. Contestants were challenged to come up with healthy recipes using USDA’s MyPlate food icon for inspiration.  The winning recipes reflected the appealing symbol, with healthy amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy.

I was honored to be USDA’s advisor and a judge for this year’s competition, and attend the Kids’ State Dinner with the winners. Here, at the USDA, we are proud to see this national example of how MyPlate is helping children make healthy choices when preparing and consuming food.  Events such as this encourage other children to adopt good eating patterns and pursue healthy lifestyles.

Social Media Buzz for MyPlate’s 2nd Birthday

For MyPlate’s 2nd birthday on June 2, 2013, USDA is using the power of social media to throw a month- long virtual party.  Everyone is invited to participate and help celebrate the success of USDA’s MyPlate on the new MyPlate Facebook page.  Log on to www.facebook.com/myplate from June 2 through the end of the month and wish MyPlate a healthy Happy Birthday!

MyPlate’s birthday wish is to increase its Facebook fan base so that even more people can learn about MyPlate and healthy eating.  The MyPlate Facebook page will have a new birthday cover photo and birthday related posts all week long.  Fans, partners, and other federal agencies are also being encouraged to use blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram to help celebrate this happy milestone. The event hashtag is #MyPlateBirthday.

SuperTracker Announces New My Foods Feature

It’s been a little over a year since we first launched SuperTracker, and in that time we’ve loved hearing from our now over 2 million registered users – what they like about the site and ideas to make it better. We’re excited to announce a new SuperTracker feature that is based on user feedback!  It’s now possible to create My Foods – customized versions of SuperTracker foods with nutrition information that you enter.  When you search for a food in Food Tracker, just click on “customize” in the left hand column and Create My Food pops up. Nestlé Water North America created an educational Daily Buzz TV segment which reached 1.2 million viewers, as well as two Audio News Releases, which aired on nearly 1,900 stations.

USDA’s SuperTracker Diet Tool Reaches Two Million Users

I am pleased to report that over two million Americans are now using USDA’s SuperTracker, our online dietary planning and tracking tool!

Today, as never before, our awareness is heightened about the importance of healthy eating.  Cookbooks and diet books reign supreme in the bookstores.  There are entire TV channels devoted exclusively to food and, of course, stories of too many Twinkies, doughnuts and sodas provide constant fodder for the late night comedians.  A day doesn’t go by that new food-related research isn’t released.  Diet and health information abound on social media.  Grocery stores are constantly adding new, healthier products.  And communities across America are trying new and novel approaches to promote healthy eating.

MyPlate Helps More Consumers Build a Healthy Plate with Social Media

MyPlate is using the power of Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter to make it easier for consumers to find simple science-based and practical guidance in many forms to help consumers eat healthier and live healthier.  These social media platforms reach broad audiences and can now direct users to the wealth of consumer-friendly content supporting the MyPlate icon.

“Through social media, USDA can reach people where they need to make food decisions  -- on-the-go, in stores, at restaurants, and at home -- and provide timely tips and information that can be shared with family and friends.” - Dr. Robert Post, Associate Executive Director of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

CNPP Partners Deliver DGA Consumer Messages

The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) and its National Strategic Partners work together to deliver coordinated, consumer-friendly messages that promote the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to a broad audience.   Recent messages disseminated included Make half your plate fruits and vegetables, Enjoy your food, but eat less and Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Partner promotion activities vary for each message, but are far-reaching.  The following are examples of how several of our National Strategic Partners encouraged Americans to replace sugary drinks with water, reaching 91 million consumers and 4.4 million consumer influencers:

Happy Birthday SuperTracker!

After an exciting and successful year reaching well over a million users, SuperTracker celebrates its first birthday! With growing public interest in nutrition and health, we found that SuperTracker is the online tool many people have been waiting for to help them adopt healthful eating habits; something that is top of mind this time of year SuperTracker is an easy-to-use, tool for tracking food intake, physical activity and weight - for free!!  If you have a 2013 New Year’s resolutions to eat better, lose weight, or exercise more, then you need to be using SuperTracker.

Food for Thought Exhibit: Putting the Dietary Guidelines into Action at the Koshland Science Museum

On November 15, 2012, the National Academy of Sciences Koshland Science Museum here in Washington, DC, premiered its new Food for Thought exhibit. This engaging experience offers an interactive and thought-provoking opportunity for visitors to explore the practical how-to of healthy eating.

To kick off the grand opening of the exhibit, the Koshland held its second Healthy Plate Cook-Off, which featured healthy meals prepared by teams of students from the DC Central Kitchen culinary training program. The student teams were required to follow the guidance that supports MyPlate (at ChooseMyPlate.gov) in preparing their recipes and meals. The teams’ meals were judged by a panel of nutrition and health professionals for taste, appearance, and nutritional value.  I was honored to represent the Department and serve as a judge at this event.

USDA’s SuperTracker Receives Award for Outstanding IT Achievement in Government

In addition to reaching over 1.4 million users, USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion now has something else to be proud of regarding its state-of-the-art SuperTracker.  On October 24, 2012, the SuperTracker Team received the 2012 Government Computer News (GCN) Award for Outstanding IT Achievement in Government, along with nine other awardees from local, state, and Federal governments.  The awards were presented to these government teams for their extraordinary accomplishments and significant contributions to the performance of their agencies.

Partnerships Bolster Nutrition Messaging through “Grain Chain” Videos

The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) and its partners use a coordinated messaging approach to amplify the reach of themes and nutrition messages related to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Themes include Foods to Increase, Foods to Reduce, Balancing Calories, “Make half your plate fruits and vegetables” and “Avoid oversized portions.”

One recent example of this collaboration was in support of the message “Make at least half your grains whole grains.” Multiple national partners committed to promoting and supporting grains rallied together and formed a group known as the “Grain Chain.” Members included American Bakers Association, Wheat Foods Council, Grains Food Foundation, National Pasta Association, USA Rice Federation, General Mills, and Kellogg’s. The “Grain Chain” partnered to produce a series of educational “how-to” videos highlighting whole grains as well as a series of tasty recipes featuring whole grains. The videos are now available at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. Recipes coming soon!