‘Choose My Plate’ helps families navigate nutritional needs
By: Major Frank Duracher
Salvation Army staff in Conway, South Carolina, have modified a nationally-utilized program to further aid families affected by self-quarantining to prepare balanced, nutritional meals.
“My Choice” is a concept many food pantries around the country have moved to in recent years. Jennifer Williams, social service worker for The Salvation Army of Horry County, started a My Choice pantry in October 2019. The pantry was open a couple of days each week and provided bags of food to residents of the county, which has the most land area of any in South Carolina.
But when the COVID-19 crisis hit spiraling families out of work and income, Jennifer quickly realized she needed to arrange for “something more.”
She employed the USDA “Choose My Plate” guide, which is an educational tool specifically geared towards supplemental food pantries. Choose My Plate takes the My Choice concept a step further.
A variety of color-coded shelves with the “Choose My Plate” design gives neighbors the tools and resources to create well-balanced meals with the items they just chose from the shelf, said Captain Carl Melton, Conway corps officer.
However, with the ongoing pandemic and social-distancing instructions, The Salvation Army of Horry County could no longer allow clients into the pantry to choose the items. After the crisis is over, the educational tool will be continued.
In the meantime, Salvation Army staff and volunteers pack the essentials, while guided by the color emblems to make a variety of meals. Along with each box handouts are provided, detailing the Choose My Plate program.
Furthermore, at https://www.choosemyplate.gov families can find helpful guidance that includes suggested calorie intake for children of various age groups, nutritious recipes and dietary guidelines.
The concept will prove to be a lasting resource for healthy family-dining long after the coronavirus subsides.
“We know there will continue to be a need for food, and The Salvation Army is ready to meet that need and Do the Most Good,” Captain Melton said.