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Texas Schools Eat Up MyPlate

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's new nutrition icon, MyPlate, replaces the food pyramid after 19 years.
Graphic courtesy USDA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's new nutrition icon, MyPlate, replaces the food pyramid after 19 years.

Texas school districts are responding to the newest innovation in nutrition guidelines from the The U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA today unveiled MyPlate. It's a graphic rendition of suggested proportional portion sizes for fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy.

Melanie Konarik, director of child nutrition services for Spring Independent School District, called the design "excellent," saying that teachers and parents can use it to educate young people about the importance of balanced meals.

“It’s easy to show to a first grader or a high schooler and help them see that a normal dinner plate should have more vegetables by volume than that protein item,” said Konarik, who also serves on the executive board of the national School Nutrition Association.

Spring ISD will be revamping its nutrition program over the summer using MyPlate as a guide, Konarik said, and she believes many other districts throughout the state and nation will likely do the same.

First Lady Michelle Obama, Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack and others developed the MyPlate icon to replace the classic food pyramid. Half the plate includes fruit and veggies, and half has grains and protein, with dairy sitting outside the plate.

In a speech today, Mrs. Obama, said, "We realized that we needed something that made sense not just in classrooms or laboratories, but at dinner tables and school cafeterias. We needed something useful, something simple.

And that’s why I like the MyPlate approach so much, because when it comes to eating, what’s more useful than a plate?  What’s more simple than a plate? This is a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we’re eating."

You can find the complete USDA 2010 dietary guidelines here.

Audrey White is a news intern at KUT. She is currently studying at the University of Texas at Austin.