National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix


MyPlate, MyState, MyWin

Grade Level(s)

9 - 12

Estimated Time

60-90 minutes


Students will explore the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, compare and contrast historical food guides, and discover how to apply principles of MyPlate into their diet to create a "MyWin." Students will also use the USDA interactive MyState map to discover foods grown in their own state.


Interest Approach:

  • Dietary Guideline Timeline, 1 copy per class
  • Food Guide Timeline, 1 copy per class

Activity 1:

Activity 2: MyPlate, MyWins

Activity 3: MyPlate, MyState

  • MyPlate, MyState printout for your state, 1 copy per student
    • Go to the MyPlate MyState interactive map, click on your state, then click the "print" icon.
  • MyPlate, MyState handout, 1 per student

Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)

Essential Links


Dietary Guidelines for Americans: a list of guidelines to use as a tool to help Americans make healthy dietary choices to prevent chronic disease and enjoy a healthy diet

MyPlate: a graphical nutritional guide developed by the USDA depicting a place setting with the correct portions of each food group

USDA: United States Department of Agriculture

Did you know? (Ag Facts)

  • The first dietary recommendations were offered to Americans by the USDA in 1916.1
  • Fast food meal portions are 2-5 times larger today than they were in the 1980s.2
  • 45% of millennials and 24% of baby boomers have adopted a special diet (e.g., gluten-free or vegan).3

Background Agricultural Connections

Every five years since 1980 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) publishes the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines put current nutritional research into context for consumers to create healthy eating patterns, promote health, and reduce the risk for chronic disease. The guidelines also set the standard for national food programs, school lunch menus, and low-income food programs.

The first dietary guidelines were set in place from 1916-1930.1 The informational brochures were titled “Food for Young Children” and “How to Select Food.” Nutritional guidance has continued to evolve and change over the last 100 years. Visit the USDA’s webpage, A Brief History of USDA Food Guides for a historical timeline of dietary recommendations.

Today, dietary recommendations include food groups, recommended serving sizes, overall caloric intake, foods to limit, and foods to eat more of. MyPlate is the current nutrition guide published by the USDA. The image depicts a place setting with a plate and glass divided into 5 food groups. Many challenges exist to incorporate a healthy diet. The MyPlate, MyWins initiative is focused on helping Americans find solutions for healthy eating that matches lifestyle and culture. For example, learning to make healthy choices even while eating out, snacking, or eating local foods. 

The MyPlate, MyState component of MyPlate helps consumers link their growing region to the foods that are produced locally. While not not all foods can be grown or produced in every climate and location, eating the foods that your geography does support lowers the consumer’s carbon footprint by decreasing pollution and fossil fuel consumption to transport food from the farm to the consumer. It also ensures freshness because produce can be harvested when ripe. Buying local improves the local economy. It is estimated that every dollar spent to purchase locally produced products adds four times more to the local economy than a dollar spent at a national chain retailer.

Interest Approach – Engagement

  1. Share the following quote with students: “Unless care is exercised in selecting food, a diet may result which is one-sided or badly balanced… The evils of overeating may not be felt at once, but sooner or later they are sure to appear…”5
  2. Explain that W.O. Atwater said this in 1894. He was a USDA chemist studying nutrition. Explain that the USDA is a government agency that oversees the production of our food supply beginning on the farm and ending on our plates. Continue to explain that the USDA began educating consumers about nutrition over 100 years ago.
  3. Divide your board in half and label one side “Dietary Guidelines” and the other side “Food Guides.” Explain that the USDA has created lists of nutritional recommendations known as Dietary Guidelines. They have also created graphical images to represent what healthy eating patterns look like. They are called Food Guides.
  4. Divide your class in half. Give one team the Dietary Guideline Timeline printout and the other team the Food Guide Timeline. Instruct the students to work together to place each historical version of the Food Guide and Dietary Guidelines in chronological order on the board.
  5. After students have made their best guess, use the key provided in each printout to put both timelines in the correct order and label them with the date.
  6. Discuss reasons why the recommendations have been updated through the years (scientific research, cultural trends, etc.). Ask students if they can identify any trends that haven’t changed through the years. 


Activity 1: What are the Dietary Guidelines?

  1. Ask students to brainstorm a list of diseases. Record them on the board. When you have a sufficient list, circle the diseases that are health/diet related. Once you have circled the diseases, ask students what all of the circled diseases have in common. (they are impacted or caused by the foods we eat) Conclude that the foods we eat impact our lifelong health. 
  2. Give each student one copy of the Dietary Guidelines 101 worksheet.
  3. Watch the video, Understanding the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Prior to the video clip, inform students that they will need to be able to tell you the who, what, when, and why of the dietary guidelines. 
  4. After the video, discuss:
    • Who? United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services.
    • What? Guidelines to help Americans understand how to have a healthy diet.
    • When? Every 5 years.
    • Why? To reduce the risk of chronic disease.
  5. Explain to students what the 5 Dietary Guidelines are by projecting the graphic organizer image on the board. Students will place one dietary guideline in each of the 5 sections of the star beginning with the top and moving clockwise.
  6. Print one copy of the Dietary Guideline Scenarios and cut each of the scenarios apart. You will have 40 scenarios. Divide your board into five sections and label each with the numbers 1-5.
  7. To summarize and apply what they have learned, give each student one scenario. Have them read the scenario and place it on the board with the dietary guideline being described. For example, participating in a family health challenge could be placed with dietary guideline #5 (Supporting healthy eating patterns for all.) Note that some scenarios can fit into multiple categories.

Activity 2: MyPlate, MyWins

  1. Ask students what the current food guide is called (MyPlate). (If needed, help them distinguish between the Dietary Guidelines and the Food Guide by remembering that the Food Guide is a graphical image.) Draw on prior knowledge to discuss that MyPlate depicts a plate setting that is divided into 5 food groups and shows portion sizes for each food group.
  2. Ask students what kind of obstacles they face in following good nutrition principles like those illustrated in MyPlate. Students may offer ideas such as time, eating out, cultural eating preferences, etc. Guide your discussion for students to realize that diet and nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all program. There are many ways to eat healthy.
  3. Show What are #MyPlateMyWins? video followed by MyPlate, MyWins: What’s Your Healthy Eating Style?
  4. Project the Shift to Healthier Food and Beverage Choices PDF. Review it as a class. Ask students if small changes can make big differences. (Yes!)
  5. Give each student one copy of the Making MyPlate, MyWins handout. Students will need access to a computer or device to complete the activity using tools on

Activity 3: MyPlate, MyState

  1. Ask students what foods, flavors, and recipes your state is known for. Allow students to offer their ideas. If needed, visit the MyPlate My State webpage and use the interactive map. Click on your state to discover what foods are produced in your state.
    • Teacher Tip: If you click the “Print” button on your state’s page, the information will print a handout with your state’s logo.
  2. Discuss the value of eating locally produced foods. Your discussion may include nutritional value (eating whole, fresh foods rather than processed), economic impact, and environmental impact. See the Background Agricultural Connections section of the lesson for more information.
  3. Give each student one copy of the MyPlate, MyState Meal worksheet and a printout of your state’s information from the MyPlate MyState webpage showing what foods are produced in your state. Challenge students to create a meal plan incorporating all the nutritional principles taught through MyPlate using only foods that are produced locally in your state.
  4. After students have completed the activity, ask the following questions:
    • Was it easy to plan a meal following MyPlate guidelines using only foods produced in our state? (answers will vary by state)
    • What obstacles does your state face in producing a variety of foods from every food group? (answers could include climate, geography, open space, fertile soil, water supply, etc.)
    • What dietary benefits do we enjoy in our state because food can be transported long distances from the farm where it was produced to consumers across the country and world? (a larger variety of foods that can be produced in climates and growing regions outside of our own) 

Be sure students understand that there are benefits to consuming food that was produced locally. The eating pattern can be referred to as a "locavore." However, some climates and geographical locations would substantially limit the variety of foods in a diet. There are pros and cons to both approaches.

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation

After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:

  • The Dietary Guidelines are a tool to help Americans make healthy nutritional choices to prevent chronic disease and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. They are updated every 5 years.
  • MyPlate is a graphic that illustrates the correct portions of each food group.
  • Small shifts in our dietary habits can make big, positive impacts in our lives.
  • Being aware of the types of food produced locally helps encourage more healthy eating habits.

We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!


Enriching Activities

  • Help students customize their own MyPlate Plan based on their individual nutritional needs.

  • Read the article, Top 10 things you should know about the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. 

  • Following Activity 1, assign student’s to create their own scenarios that follow the Dietary Guidelines.

  • Have students play the MyPlate Match Game to learn the names and colors of the food groups, how to categorize foods by food group, how many servings they need from each group daily, and ways to be active for 60 minutes per day.

  • Assign students to prepare a meal following MyPlate recommendations. Prior to eating, they should take a picture and share on social media using a corresponding hashtag such as #MyPlateMyState, #MyPlateMyWins and/or a hashtag specific to your class.

  • Have students watch several of the MyPlate, MyWins videos on USDA’s MyPlate YouTube channel. Analyze and compare the challenges faced by the different people. Discover similarities and differences as well as their healthy eating solutions.

Suggested Companion Resources

Agricultural Literacy Outcomes

Food, Health, and Lifestyle

  • Identify how various foods can contribute to a healthy diet (T3.9-12.g)

Education Content Standards


Health Standard 1: Comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention to enhance health.

  • 1.12.1
    Predict how healthy behaviors can affect health status.

Health Standard 2: Analyze the influence of family, peers, culture, media, technology, and other factors on health behaviors.

  • 2.12.2
    Analyze how the culture supports and challenges health beliefs, practices, and behaviors.
  • 2.12.10
    Analyze how public health policies and government regulations can influence health promotion and disease prevention.

Health Standard 3: The ability to access valid information, products, and services to enhance health.

  • 3.12.2
    Use resources from home, school, and community that provide valid health information.

Health Standard 5: Demonstrate the ability to use decision-making skills to enhance health.

  • 5.12.2
    Determine the value of applying a thoughtful decision-making process in health-related situations.
  • 5.12.6
    Defend the healthy choice when making decisions.
  • 5.12.7
    Evaluate the effectiveness of health-related decisions.

Health Standard 7: Demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and avoid or reduce health risks.

  • 7.12.1
    Analyze the role of individual responsibility for enhancing health.
  • 7.12.2
    Demonstrate a variety of healthy practices and behaviors that will maintain or improve the health of self and others.
  • 7.12.3
    Demonstrate a variety of behaviors to avoid or reduce health risks to self and others.

Common Core Connections

Reading: Anchor Standards

    Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
    Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards

    Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
    Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

Language: Anchor Standards

    Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
    Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
    Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.


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