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Local restaurants join NR Vitality Initiative to create healthy lunch options

Teresa Kvam (St. Croix County PH/Vitality Initiative), Jess Weatherson (Brady's Brewhouse), Jennifer Williams (The Centre/Vitality Initiative), Ann Hall (Table 65) and Mary Jo Brunner (Vitality Initiative) are pictured outside the New Richmond Area Centre. The group is involved with the My Lunch Plate initiative, which is part of the NR Vitality Initiative. (Photo by Jordan Willi) 1 / 2
An example of a proper plate of food, with the correct proportions of all the food groups, is shown. (Submitted photo) 2 / 2
On June 2, 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack released the federal government’s new food icon, MyPlate, to help consumers make healthier food choices. MyPlate is a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times.

According to Teresa Kvam (RD, CD, CLC), of the St. Croix County Services Center Health and Human Service - Public Health, there are five restaurants in New Richmond either already on board with the program or in the process of working out the final logistics to become part of MyPlate. Those restaurants are Table 65, Westfields Hospital Cafe and JET’s Coffee Bistro who are already part of the program, while Ready Randy’s and Brady’s Brewhouse are still in the final stages.

Two registered dietitians collaborated to research and determine the most ideal, simple, and evidence-based concept for eating a healthy lunch. MyPlate, is the foundation for the criteria.

MyPlate illustrates the five food groups that are the building blocks for a healthy diet using a familiar image – a place setting for a meal. Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate or in your cup or bowl.

“Helping out along the way has been UW-Oshkosh Accelerated BSN student Seth Bollinger,” said Kvam. “He has been a huge help and has worked with the restaurants to get set up and started. He’s done a lot of the leg work for the project.”

The healthy options on the lunch menus for JET’s, the Hospital Cafe and Table 65 are as follows:

  • Jets: Veggie wrap w/juice; cranberry spinach salad; chef salad

  • Table 65: Uptown chicken salad; avocado chicken Panini; artisan Brie Panini

  • Hospital Café: vitality salad bar (recommended vitality approved salads); Hawaiian pork sandwich; chicken stir fry

The criteria for the program includes a minimum of one serving from each of the MyPlate food groups - dairy, vegetable, grain, fruit and protein.

The dairy category includes such items as one cup skim or 1 percent milk, or soy beverage, six ounces low fat yogurt and one and a half ounces natural cheese or two ounces processed cheese.

The vegetable category includes one cup raw or cooked, eight ounces vegetable juice and two cups leafy greens. Fruits portions that count include one cup fruit, eight ounces 100 percent fruit juice and half a cup of dried fruit.

The grains include (including one to two ounces per meal) one ounce equals one slice bread or roll, one cup dry cereal or half cup cooked cereal, half a cup cooked rice or pasta or one tortilla. Proteins include (including one to two ounces per meal) one ounce equals one ounce beef, pork, poultry, fish; one-fourth cup cooked beans; one egg; one tablespoon nut butter; and half an ounce nuts or seeds.

Condiments are OK, but they must be served as sides. Cooking methods that are appropriate for the MyPlate project are grilling, steaming, baking or broiling. When adding fat while cooking it must be olive, canola or other some other liquid vegetable oil.

For a restaurant or eating establishment to become part of the MyPlate initiative, they must be contacted by the Vitality Initiative Committee to offer an invitation to participate. Once a restaurant is invited to participate, a dietitian will visit the restaurant to assist in identifying and/or modifying items. Menu items that satisfy the identified criteria (with a maximum of three) will then be clearly marked with the Vitality Initiative logo so the public knows.

For more information about the MyPlate project, contact Teresa Kvam at

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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