Well Being

College Kids Cannot Be Trusted With Grown Up Plates

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my plateThe University of New Hampshire has set a goal to be the nation's healthiest campus by 2020. In an effort to achieve that goal, the school's dining services has started serving up healthy eating guidelines to its student body on printed platters er, plates.

The school has started integrating “Wildcat Plates” into their dining halls. These dishes, named for the school mascot, mimic the USDA's image of a plate, the plate that replaced the food pyramid as a symbol for a balanced diet. According to USA Today the University's plates “offer a bit more detail than the “My Plate” graphic promoted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While the USDA image shows a plate divided into four segments labeled “fruits,” ”vegetables,” ”grains,” and “proteins,” the Wildcat plate specifies “lean protein” and “whole grains” and offers suggestions such as ‘try whole wheat pasta, brown rice or quinoa.'”

These plates are meant to be a tool to help youths away from home for the first time make healthful meal choices. Some students have been influenced by them to make healthy choices, while others choose to ignore the plate's urges and others just like that the dishes are made of melamine and aren't searing hot like the dining halls' ceramic plates.

College is the first time for a lot of youths to be feedings and caring for themselves. Considering our country's current state of nutrition education and food politics in general, it's no wonder co-eds have no idea how to feed themselves. While I think it's important for campuses to foster healthy nutritional choices rather than just being hotbeds of pizza parties and eating disorders alike, this measure seems to be a bit patronizing. Of course, the plates are mere suggestions and do not force healthy food portions on anyone.

There are other iterations of this sort of plate abound outside of UNH, but typically they are used as teaching tools and not actual flatware. To actually have students use them reminds me of toddlers using baby plates with little sections to keep foods separate lest finicky eaters flip out over their butter noodles touching their diced carrots. I personally don't understand why banners with the USDA “My Plate” wouldn't suffice. These plates kind of seem like a patronizing eyesore. College students don't need to be babied, they need to be offered healthy options and perhaps we should be educating people about proper nutrition before they reach college.

via USA Today//Image via Shutterstock

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