by Gary Lacoste
Last year I had the pleasure of working with CarrotNewYork, educational marketing specialist, and designer Mabel Zorzano on an extensive project for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). After the MyPyramid food icon was replaced by MyPlate, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) needed to update their classroom materials that engaged elementary-aged children in nutrition education.
Early brainstorming sessions and sketches revolved around the idea of a character named Plate-O. Character designs ranged from a robot made out of kitchen utensils to a friendly, though slightly geeky minotaur. I had a lot of fun with the sketches. It was ultimately decided to use a cast of children in motion to promote the healthy eating and physical activity.
With direction by the USDA, CarrotNewYork developed a yummy curriculum for grades 1 through 6. I created all the artwork for the poster and teacher’s guides. Since content was being changed and revised as I was finishing up the character art and spots I created the final art without outlines so Mabel could easily resize the art to fit the layouts without worrying about different line weights.
Along with creating all the kids and spot art for the teacher’s guides and poster I drew about 50 food items which were used throughout the curriculum. The types of foods and serving sizes needed to be as realistic as possible in terms of rendering and color while still being cartoony to match the character art. I was able to have a bit more leeway with some black and white food characters for the teacher’s guide.
The USDA launched the Serving Up MyPlate program in late 2012 to the great enthusiasm of teachers and students. CarrotNewYork and Mabel Zorzano did an outstanding job developing and organizing this multifaceted program. I was proud to be part of the team!