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Taxpayers pay $106,000 for Youtube contest on ‘veggie ideas’

By Tom Colburn

Wait a minute: You mean I go to work and sweat all day to pay for this? ‘The Fruit and Veggie Pokey!¨ was one of the winners of a federally funded YouTube video contest on fruits and veggies

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” says the old adage. Although there are endless ways to find ideas for healthy eating, the federal government decided to add one more – a YouTube video contest.

A search for “veggie ideas” on YouTube turns up over 1,000 privately created videos offering creative advice on using vegetables. Yet, the Department of Health and Human Services spent $97,000 to design and hold the “MyPlate Fruits and Veggies Video Challenge,” a contest in which people could submit 30-second videos to “share positive messages about the benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables with their peers.”

A prize pool of $9,000 was promised for the winners, bringing the total cost of the video contest to $106,000.

Winning videos were judged on a number of criteria, such as inclusion of the message “make half your plate fruits and vegetables,” encouragement to visit ChooseMyPlate.gov, and advice to leave out fried foods.

Despite its cost and prize pool, the contest only lured in 142 video submissions. One of the most popular videos features a group of schoolgirls doing the hokey pokey with the lyrics, “You put your fruit in, you take your junk food out.”

As adorable or fun as some of the videos may be, such words are falling on ears that have heard messages about fruits and veggies for years. A description of the video contest itself states “efforts have been underway nationally for nearly 20 years to promote fruits and vegetables.” Its videos are unlikely to compete with millions of others that command people’s attention, and federal programs already exist promoting healthy eating. This project proved to be nothing but an unhealthy use of taxpayer dollars.




Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Nov 06 , 2012