Discover smart servings for healthier eating habits with a Smart Servings Challenge!Healthy Kids Challenge helps kids eat, move, and enjoy healthy balance

Size Up Your Servings

Here’s a fun exercise to see how you measure up when it comes to serving size, sugar and fat.

  1. Make a list of the top 10 foods you eat most often.
  2. Fill in the amount recommended as a serving by MyPlate.
  3. Look at labels for each of the foods listed and place checkmarks by foods with a higher percentage of fat or sugar (generally foods that list fat or sugar as one of the first five ingredients on the label have a high percentage of fat or sugar).
  4. Place a check mark by the foods that you need to watch your serving size.

Challenge yourself to eat these foods in smaller servings and/or less often.

Feel free to access the entire Smart Servings resource in the HKC-CIGNA Healthy Balance Toolkit.

You might also want to download and use this free tip sheet called Make Healthy Enjoyable. We really need to keep the fun in health, too!

Explore MyPlate cover 110810FExplore MyPlate with School Nutrition is the perfect tool for school nutrition services directors and teams looking to involve kids in exploring MyPlate learning.

Fun, easy to use action ideas are designed to help you increase participation through marketing and promotion and help your team meet the HealthierUS School Challenge.

MyPlate-based content includes: food trivia, bulletin boards, food science experiments (already linked with curriculum standards), menu planning tips and fun ideas for youth advisory councils

“I needed to hear this! I know my team can make a difference but no (one) at our school sees that. You have given me tools to step forward and not wait any more, thank you!”
–SFS Director, Minnesota, participant at a Healthy Kids Challenge workshop at the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference.

If you haven’t been to the Let’s Move! website, or even if you have, there is always something new to support healthy kids! One thing we love about Let’s Move! is the way they make it easy to choose healthy, easy to take action, and easy to – yes – MOVE.

Easy Move for Schools: Join the HealthierUS Schools Challenge
Take it further: Download the teacher toolkit

Easy Move for Kids: Try new fruits and veggies.
Take it further: Download the full Kids action plan

Easy Move for Parents: Take a walk with your family after dinner.
Take it further: Download a full Parents action plan

Since May is Active Play month at HKC, I do want to point out the whole section on Let’s Move!’s website devoted to getting active. The Get Active section has specific areas targeted at families, schools, and communities. You’ll love the area that gives kids options of “What To Do” on the Let’s Move Outside pages.

A super-easy way to eat healthy is finding the new MyPlate recipes on Pinterest. The Partnership for a Healthier America, Let’s Move!, USDA’s MyPlate, and the nation’s top recipe creators teamed up to make it easier for you to put nutritious meals on the table. Just search for MyPlate Recipes on Pinterest.

Speaking of Pinterest, remember we’re on there too, spreading the word-I mean, the pins-about everything to help build a healthy world for kids! Go to or simply search for our name.

How do you make healthy the easy choice?

An easy middle school nutrition/cooking lesson, as well as a good Valentine’s Day salad idea!Healthy Kids Challenge helps kids eat, move, and enjoy healthy balance

Apple-Almond Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 8, or 32 (1/4 cup serving) tasting samples

1 cup non-fat, bottled raspberry vinaigrette
8 small apples, diced
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped almonds
8 cups bagged, pre-cut mixed greens


  1. In advance, rinse and drain the apples and mixed greens.
  2. In a large salad bowl, add the ingredients and toss gently.
  3. Serve ¼ cup tasting samples on each small dessert plates with a fork.
  4. Have kids clean up work area and utensils with warm soapy water. Rinse with clean water.

Per full-size serving (1 ¾ cups): 221 calories, 5 g pro., 6 g fat, 24% calories from fat

Recipe source: (Modified) for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 6/11.

Taste and Learn Activity for Middle School Students

Materials: MyPlate Poster

  1. Fill half of a standard size meal plate with salad and explain it represents the fruits and vegetables on the MyPlate poster.
  2. Discuss how eating that amount at meals helps kids get their suggested daily servings of fiber.
  3. Ask kids to think of the fruits/veggies they ate yesterday.
  4. Did the amount they ate fill half a plate? Have them draw a representation of their plate.
  5. Ask kids to create a menu using the recipe and the other MyPlate food groups (Grains, Protein, and Dairy).
  6. Have them create a grocery list for their menu.

*This Taste and Learn Activity is from the Explore MyPlate with School Nutrition book, for grades 6-8, page 123.

Red and purple fruits and veggies

Whether your school is participating in the HealthierUS School Challenge or not, chances are the kids are being introduced to many more fruits and veggies and whole grain servings than they have been used to in the past. So what’s the trick to getting them to EAT those healthy choices? After all, it’s not nutrition unless they eat it…

  1. Set up the cafeteria for success. Success in helping them choose the healthier options that is. Have you heard of the Lunch Line Redesign? Or Smarter Lunchrooms Movement? Check them out for ideas.
  2. Spark interest with color. A rainbow of colors make any meal more appealing, and especially for kids. But don’t stop with the menu options. Add color to the walls using posters and bulletin boards, even repainting the cafeteria to make it more inviting.
  3. Rename the fruits and vegetables. Cooked carrots. Steamed broccoli. Sound appealing? Giving them descriptive names has been shown to help kids get interested in taking them AND eating them! You don’t even have to change how you prep them, just change the name. Examples include: “X-ray vision carrots”, and “Tiny Tasty Tree Tops.”
  4. Ask the kids for input! When you ask their opinion on healthy options, it gives them ownership in the changes, and they are more likely to eat what they helped create. Start a youth advisory council if you haven’t already, or create a simple contest for naming the cafeteria or a holiday menu. Taste tests are a proven winner!
  5. Promote, promote, promote. Think like a marketing expert. “Advertise” your healthy options on bright bulletin boards, or with new, colorful name cards. Change the placement of the veggies and fruit on the lunch line so they are offered first rather than last. Switch out stainless steel bowls for colorful options; even stacking a bowl of fruit on top of an upside down bowl gives visual appeal.

Specific action ideas that go along with these suggestions can be found in Explore MyPlate with School Nutrition™, a Healthy Kids Challenge resource. Action ideas are designed to increase interest in healthy eating and help meet the HealthierUS School Challenge criteria. Content includes MyPlate, trivia, bulletin boards, food science experiments to link with curriculum standards, menu planning tips, and fun ideas for youth advisory councils.

For even more on creating interest in healthy school meals, see the following:
HealthierUS School Challenge
School Meals That Rock
Tray Talk
School Nutrition Association

English: USDA MyPlate nutritional guide icon

8 great tools for truly interactive health fairs and healthy fundraisers as your back to school planning kicks into high gear! We’ve found these to be so versatile and easy to use that we can’t resist sharing our favorites. If you need something specific and it’s not listed here, feel free to contact me, and I’ll help you find it. Enjoy!

  1. Setting Up for Success
    Interactive, simple and fun healthy eating & physical activity displays, nutrition games, and shoestring budget activities. Great classroom, learning center, cafeteria, parent event, & health fair ideas.
  2. Ready, Set, Cook & Eat
    Plan a fun, interactive event promoting simple kitchen skills and healthy food choices. Three teams compete in a healthy cook-off while an emcee keeps the audience involved. Use for family & consumer science classrooms, afterschool programs, community events, parents’ night, or almost anywhere!
  3. Explore MyPlate
    An event planning guide for an actual walk through MyPlate. Engage all ages with a walk to understand how to eat, move and enjoy a healthy balance. Set up in the cafeteria, gym, parking lot, football field, shopping mall, city park, or anywhere space permits.
  4. Food Cards
    Looking for food pictures to use for health fairs, bulletin boards, nutrition education activities; or for younger kids, food identification? Download a file of 156 common foods from MyPlate. Foods are listed in an index by food group. Each page contains six easy to identify food pictures and their name. Download, laminate, cut and you’re ready.
    Sometimes all you need is a bright, fun incentive for a health fair or fundraiser and these are perfect. For kids: front–Colorful Kids Star Graphics; back– 7 “Healthy Me” goals for kids to choose. For adults: front–Challenge Star Graphics; back–“Healthy Me” goals.
  6. MyPlate Teaching Cards
    A handy set of color coded MyPlate teaching cards. Each card provides a simple Challenge message, tip, and healthy choice example for the MyPlate food groups (and physical activity). A great tool for educators and a smart health fair give away for families! Seven cards are secured by a corner grommet, allowing them to fan-out. English and Spanish versions are available.
  7. Explore MyPlate Wristbands
    Another educational incentive for health fairs, these silicone wristbands have debossed wording which reads: Explore MyPlate – Fruits Veggies Grains Protein Dairy. They come in 5 colors – Orange, Purple, Green, Red, Blue.
  8. Health Works Toolkit
    An ultimate toolkit for health fairs, this kit includes all 7 booklets in the Health Works! Wellness in Academics basic kit plus a set of teaching and display resources. A total teaching tools package for events, classroom, cafeterias, after school and more, including: oversized dice, dancing scarves, cones, oversized scarves, cardboard food models, fruit and veggie bean bag seedies, Explore MyPlate teaching cards, and frisbees.

What IS right with school nutrition? An awful lot, actually. I wish you could have sat in on the Choose MyPlate with School Nutrition session at the School Nutrition Association conference in Denver.

One thing that is right may surprise you. It’s not the obvious – healthier foods being served, and EATEN, in schools across the country even before the new guidelines were established. It’s length of service in school food service compared to any other foodservice job…Others (restaurant, fast food, corner store, hospital, etc.) have high turnover rates; not so with school food service.

It is not uncommon to have staff celebrate 20, 30, or MORE years working in school meal programs and that was the case with those I had the privilege to share time with this week at the annual conference in Denver. What is the sticking point? I asked that in my sessions, over 200 attendees in one and over 100 in another and the resounding answers were KIDS and TEAMWORK.

As I shared thoughts, challenges, ideas, and humor, the nod of heads were many and the visits after the sessions heartwarming.

  • These folks are ready for the changes that MyPlate, new meal pattern guidelines and the HealthierUS School Challenge program have brought to them.
  • They are ready to step up and step out and provide leadership in their schools for healthier school environments.
  • They need the tools and the support to make a healthy difference for the kids they serve so well.

I only hope I gave them a few tools and from my heart, the support to step up and help make healthy living a habit!

Your ideas are so simple, so real, so right for promoting school meals, MyPlate and participating in the HealthierUS School Challenge Program. This was one of the best sessions I’ve attended here!” SFS Director, Florida

I needed to hear this! I know my team can make a difference but no one at our school sees that. You have given me tools to step forward and not wait any more, thank you!” SFS Director, Minnesota

Want more on celebrating what’s right in school nutrition? Try these links:

School Nutrition Association Attendees Hear, See, and Do… Choose MyPlate!

School Meals That Rock

Tray Talk

Innovators in School Nutrition – July 2012

School Nutrition Association

%d bloggers like this: