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Celebrate Labor Day with a MyPlate Picnic

A picnic is an easy and relaxing holiday activity. USDA's MyPlate resources can help take the “labor” out of your Labor Day picnic. You can enjoy an easy, healthy meal by following this simple MyPlate formula: 5 food groups + family and friends = fun! When planning your picnic, be sure to include more healthful choices of menu items from each food group (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy) and water or 100% juice to drink.

Celebrate the end of summer by enjoying seasonal fruits. You can make an easy (and portable) fruit salad by dicing up fresh fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, plums, kiwi, and strawberries. If you choose to include apples, bananas, or pears, just add a splash of citrus (like orange juice) to prevent browning. And if you’re feeling more adventurous, try this refreshing MyPlate watermelon gazpacho recipe. You can bring it in a lidded container, or divide into jars for individual portions.

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.

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.

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 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.

1 Million People Using USDA SuperTracker to Monitor Diet and Physical Activity Goals

The Agriculture Department announced this week that SuperTracker, an interactive diet and activity tracking tool, reached one million registered users. SuperTracker, maintained by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), is a free online application. Users can choose from a wide variety of features ranging from quickly looking up the nutrient information for a food to in-depth diet and activity tracking.  For example, users can track their vegetable intake, estimate how many calories they burn in their aerobics class, and track their weight loss over time.

USDA 2011 Agricultural Outlook Forum: Nutrition and Health Sessions

In “The Role of Nutrition Programs in Agriculture: From Tractor to Table,” USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has organized a session at this years Agricultural Outlook Forum addressing how the increase in consumer participation in the nutrition assistance programs has expanded FNS’ role not only among families but also in the marketplace.  This session will explore the existing and new opportunities that now exist for food distributors, manufactures, retailers, and consumers.  Speakers include: Cathleen Enright, Vice President Federal Government Affairs, Western Growers Association;  Scott Faber, Vice President, Federal Affairs, Grocery Manufacturers Association; Jim Weill, President, Food Research and Action Center.  Julie Paradis, Administrator, USDA Food and Nutrition Service, will moderate the session.