PBH approved as USDA MyPlate strategic partnerThe Produce for Better Health Foundation has been approved as a national strategic partner for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate communications effort.

Elizabeth Pivonka, president of the Hockessin, Del.-based foundation, said the platform will give PBH the chance to connect with other key nutrition partners.

The USDA hasn’t announced the complete list of strategic partners, but the list will include groups such as Weight Watchers and other influential players in nutrition communications.

“Getting some of these people to work with on this (MyPlate campaign) is a big help,” she said June 10.

A key message of USDA’s MyPlate icon, introduced in early June, is for Americans to “make half your plate fruits and vegetables.” Pivonka said PBH will enhance its previous efforts to convey that message to all Americans.

Pivonka said she believes the MyPlate message will reinvigorate industry support of fruit and vegetable promotion work of PBH.

“PBH owning the message and getting that message out and getting the industry behind that message is a positive for PBH,” she said.

At the same time, she the “half a plate” message won’t replace the identity of the “Fruits and Veggies — More Matters” campaign. “There should be no worries at all about both of them working together,” she said.

The USDA will focus on the message “make half your plate fruits and vegetables” from September through December, but PBH will continue the message even after the USDA’s special focus ends in December, a news release from the group said.

The outreach plan includes a social media campaign based on the concept of a “Half My Plate Makeover” contest. Participants will be encouraged to upload a photo of their plate to the Fruits & Veggies — More matters Facebook contest page.

Pivonka said participants in the social media contest will receive coupons for fruits and veggies and be entered for a chance to win grocery gift cards. Produce marketers can promote the contest with coupons and by encouraging participation by employees, family and consumers, the release said.

PBH will also showcase “real food” plate makeovers on Facebook, websites and consumer press releases every week in the late summer, the release said.

PBH will also encourage consumers to make “half your plate” fruits and veggies by joining the America’s More Matters pledge on their website.

Over the long term, the release said PBH will conduct public relations efforts featuring “half your plate” real food photos with women magazines. The foundation will include the “half your plate” messaging in PBH educational materials, beginning with the January 2012 catalog.

PBH also plans publication of a consumer book featuring “half my plate” real food photos and links to www.ChooseMyPlate.gov and www.FruitsandVeggiesMoreMatters.org.

In other developments, Pivonka said she is hopeful that USDA will soon directly link to the PBH website from the www.MyPlate.gov page.

“They have a lot of visitors to MyPlate and we have all sorts of great information about fruits and vegetables and it would be helpful if they would send them our way, and they are excited about that too,” she said.