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First Lady Michelle Obama Announces Major New Commitment to Mi Plato

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a Let’s Move! Initiative event with Aimee Busquet and Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue at National Supermarket in Tampa, Fla., Jan. 26, 2012. The event showcased the Mi Plato (My Plate) program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s educational tool that assists families in making healthy meal choices. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

For families of all cultures, meals are often deeply rooted in tradition, with recipes passed down from generation to generation. At Let’s Move, we understand the importance of honoring those traditions while making choices that are healthy for everyone, especially children. As the First Lady said in Tampa on Thursday, “Food is love.”

But there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and the Hispanic community in particular faces unique challenges: While one in three American children is overweight or obese, in the Hispanic community, it’s nearly two in five

That’s why yesterday’s announcement that Goya Foods—the largest, Hispanic-owned U.S. food company—has committed to promote MiPlato, the USDA’s educational tool that assists families in making healthy meal choices, is significant. Goya will be taking numerous steps to help communities enjoy healthier meals, from producing pamphlets and cookbooks that provide simple, nutritious recipes tailored for busy families to creating posters that feature smart nutrition tips. And in recognition that one big step towards making a healthy meal more attainable is making it more affordable, Goya will be distributing coupons through variety of national Hispanic associations and organizations.

The company will also be imprinting the MiPlato icon on products including black beans, pinto beans, white beans, chick peas, red kidney beans. The colorful MiPlato icon was designed to educate parents and children on how to build a healthy plate by showing the proportions that should be filled with vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Mrs Obama calls it “a framework that any family can use”:

Any culture can interpret the plate in a way that is true to their traditions. You just fill up half of the plate with fruits and vegetables, you start there, and you fill the rest of it with lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy products. It is just that simple. You have the plate, you look at it, you fill it up -- you don't have to worry about measurements. It's right there.

The Goya-produced materials will also be distributed by community organizations from Florida to California, and will be available at local churches, food pantries, promotores (community health workers) networks and from registered dietitians, and schools.