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Go Wild

Go Wild and MyPlate

Through the Go Wild programs students learn about the importance of eating well-balanced meals full of healthy ingredients. When students do not eat healthy foods, it can affect their energy level, ability to learn, and school attendance, and may lead to obesity and chronic disease.

Go Wild uses the principals outlined by MyPlate, developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). While the current Go Wild offerings focus on increasing fruit, vegetable, and whole grains consumption specifically, all Go Wild programs stress the importance of eating foods from all five food groups and maintaining a balanced plate (or bowl) at meals.

Go Wild also provides students with hands-on opportunities to taste healthy foods during the lesson — both at school and at home. This helps take the “fear factor” out of trying new foods and also allows students to discover new favorites.

The Importance of Fruits and Vegetables

Go Wild with Fruits & Veggies! encourages students to eat more fruits and vegetables of all different colors. According to the USDA, fewer than 1% of elementary students eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.

Why is it important to eat fruits and vegetables? Fruits and vegetables...
  • Are good for your skin
  • Are good for your eyes
  • Help your body to heal
  • Fight infections
  • Reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease
  • Help maintain a healthy weight because they are naturally low in fat and calories

MyPlate challenges everyone to make half of their plate fruits and vegetables. It is recommended that students in grades 3-5 eat 1 ½ cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables every day. While some people may not have ready access to fresh fruits and vegetables, it's good to note that the healthy benefits can also be received from frozen, canned, dried, and juiced* fruits and vegetables!

Need suggestions for ways to get the recommended servings?

Visit Go Wild with Fruits & Veggies! for more information on this program.

*To get the maximum health benefits from juice, it should be made with 100% fruit and/or vegetable juices.

The Importance of Whole Grains

Go Wild with Whole Grains! encourages students to eat more whole grains. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), only 4% of elementary students eat the recommended amount of whole grains.

Why is it important to eat whole grains? Whole grains contain these healthy nutrients:

  • Iron — keeps your blood strong and keeps you from feeling tired
  • Fiber — helps the food you eat move through your digestive system and can help lower your body’s total cholesterol to keep your arteries clean and healthy
  • Carbohydrate — gives your body energy
  • Protein — helps you build body tissue, like muscles
  • B vitamins — help you maintain healthy skin and muscle tone, enhance your immunity to keep you from getting sick, promote red blood cell growth which helps prevent anemia and feeling tired, and minimizes birth defects in babies (as folate)
  • Phytonutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin — help your body fight heart disease and cancer and helps protect your eyesight

MyPlate challenges everyone to make half of their grains whole. It is recommended that students in grades 3-5 eat three servings of whole grains every day. Serving sizes varies depending on the food product. [See Serving Size for Whole Grains Products (161 K PDF) for examples.)]

What makes a grain food “whole grain?” Whole grains contain all three parts of the whole grain kernel (bran, endosperm, and germ). All three parts of the whole grain kernel contain important nutrients; remove a layer and you no longer get the same health benefits of the grain. When a whole grain is processed to remove one or more layers (like removing the bran layer of brown rice to make it white rice, or removing the bran layer from barley to make it pearl barley), it is no longer a whole grain and doesn’t have the same health benefits. You can tell a food is a whole grain food if it lists the whole grain as the first ingredient on the nutrition label.

Need suggestions for ways to get the recommended servings?

Visit Go Wild with Whole Grains! for more information on this program.

See the Go Wild Home page for more information about the Go Wild programs.

More Go Wild Resources

Other Recommended Resources

MyPlate on MidDay Moment — Short video, featuring Extension Educator Kathleen Lovett, introduces the MyPlate dietary guidelines.

ChooseMyPlate.govUnited States Department of Agriculture — MyPlate resources, dietary guidelines, and online tools to help you and your family eat a balanced diet.

Healthy Eating — Support your health at every stage of life with the foods you eat.

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