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"Color Your Tray" encourages students to use MyPlate

The following post was contributed by food service professional, Kris Diller.

I have developed an idea using "color my tray" as a nutrition learning tool that I would like to share. Our new “color your tray” menu board will be used to teach students about the 5 school meal components: meat/ meat alternate, milk, fruit, vegetable, and bread, by relating the colors on the poster to the food being served.

Students are encouraged to take all 5 food components each day but a minimum of 3 to = A Healthy Tray.

The colors of the food groups will be represented by corresponding colored fish which have been clipped on the serving pans. Students may be encouraged to choose a “red fish” or “blue fish” depending on what food group is missing from their tray. We’re excited and hope the message really catches on!

In addition, I did a one page informational flyer for lunchroom supervisor's, teachers and our food coaches who are in our cafeterias, so all the folks involved provide a consistent message to our students.

The fish food chart will sit next to our cashier giving them a handy tool to refer to when encouraging a student to go back and pick up food item from the serving line. If a student does go back and get something, the cashier has been giving the student a "color your plate" sticker as a reward. So far, it's working really well. It's a fun reminder to the students to build a healthy tray.

We are in our second week of using the menu board with the fish attached to the foods in the serving line. It seems like the kids are really catching on fast to the idea. We have volunteer food coaches in our serving area teaching our students as they come through the line, and our lunch room supervisors are discussing it with students in the cafeteria. In addition, our PE teachers requested Learning ZoneXpress posters to show their classes how the color my plate works. They plan on using it for Fitness Fever coming up next month.

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