MyPlate lunch plan replaces the MyPyramid

Meal prices increase without a fruit and vegetable side

Corinne Hazen | Staff Writer
Anna Fagin | MBC News Reporter

 MBC News Reporter Anna Fagin asks MHS students what they think about the changes in the cafeteria, and talks to Child Nutrition Supervisor Tamara Earl about the reasoning behind the change.

Students now have to choose between fruits and vegetables or a costly meal.

Mason High School has implemented the United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate plan. According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, there should be five food components in a complete meal. These include grains, protein, fruits, vegetables and milk. If a student chooses not to pick a fruit of vegetable, their cost of their meal will increase.

The MyPlate plan as of 2012, has completely taken the place of the previously followed nutrition guide, the MyPyramid, according to Supervisor of the Mason City Schools Office of Child Nutrition Tamara Earl.

“In the MyPyramid, the progression on it was based on the number of servings that you should have,” Earl said. “So on the bottom was the grains, for instance, and what they really found was that people couldn’t relate to it.”

Earl said the purpose is to encourage students to learn to make healthy choices in school and outside of it as well.

“I believe the goal of the new regulations is to model healthy eating in this environment,” Earl said. “Which I hope will help students to make wise food choices not just at school but at home, in restaurants, and in situations when purchasing and preparing their own food.”

Senior Tori Martin, said that she has consumed enough lunches in the High School cafeteria to experience a lot of the changes from her freshman year to now.

“I appreciate [the changes] because I think it makes people more aware of what they are eating,” Martin said. “[Obesity] is a huge problem in our country but I also think that people are going to eat what they want either way so it’s all adding and subtracting and paying more for things isn’t going to change how they eat.”

Senior Jen Center has her own opinion on the fruits and vegetables and how their visual appeal plays a big role in her deciding whether she chooses to consume them or not.

“I like to eat healthy but, I think…[the cafeteria’s] fruits and vegetables are gross,” Center said. “They don’t look healthy. They are not organic but like you look at them and you’re like, that’s not a fruit or vegetable–it’s gross.”

Center said she also believes that being forced to choose a healthier option isn’t fair.

“I feel like that’s not their right to do that to us, you should be able to buy whatever you want,” Center said.

Junior Riley Carr said he believes having different choices for the students to choose would be a more effective way of pushing students to eat healthy during school.

“I think choice is really important to teenagers and kids,” Carr said. “If they are being forced into one option then they’ll refuse it because it’s just the nature of who we are. If they are making us eat healthy then [kids] they are going to be more likely to refuse to eat it and just waste the food but I think if we have a choice more kids might opt for the healthy option because they are learning to make choices for themselves.”

Even a group of students at the Mason Early Childhood Center have begun to advertise the recent changes. Teachers Brenda Ahlers, Dona Mason and Kim Lovett joined together their young classes to create a video called, “Let’s All Go To The Lunch Room.” This video’s purpose is to showcase what the new plan entails.

Earl said her next step in evaluating if the kids are actually eating the fruits and vegetables, is to walk around the cafeteria and observe how many students are throwing away their sides.

“I think [MyPlate] is here to stay for a while,” Earl said. “And I think it is the hope that it will help Americans define how they eat, and it will have a permanency to it.”