Some 13,000 elementary school students in Arizona are increasing their fruit and vegetable intake at lunch thanks to a program developed by two local entrepreneurs. Called the Power Play’te, it uses a colorful plate design modeled on the USDA’s MyPlate icon that encourages the student to fill it with healthy fresh produce.
Power Play’te is currently in use in two elementary districts: Yuma One, a K-5 district, and Crane, a K-6 district. Launched in September, the program uses the plates once a week on Wednesdays, which has now become something of a special day in the minds of the kids, says Power Play’te co-founder Susan Sternitzke.
“The principal announces that morning that it is Power Play’te day as well as the ‘crop of the week’ will be,” she says. “There is also a contest that lets kids who dress in the color of the crop of the day—say green for cucumber day—go to the front of the lunch line. Some kids go so far as to dye their hair the color of the crop of the day, so it’s become something the kids really get into.”
School dining staff are also getting into the program, going around the lunchroom with Clean Plate Club stickers for kids who finish their food.
Sternitzke and company co-founder Kristan Sheppeard go to a different school each Wednesday to participate in the festivities and to gauge program success.
“We take a group of 10 kids at each school and look at three things: the quantity of fruits and vegetables they took, how much they ate and how much they threw away.” So far, consumption has been rising impressively. You can find info on the program at www.powerplayte.com