Congress deals setback to healthy school lunches | Food | Indy Week
INDY Week's food blog

Archives | RSS

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Congress deals setback to healthy school lunches

Posted by on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 2:04 PM

Students in public schools who want healthier food options will have to wait a little longer. On Nov. 11, Congress blocked proposals from the USDA to strengthen nutritional guidelines for school meals. The proposals were part of a spending bill introduced to Congress earlier this year, and would have been the first updates to school nutritional guidelines in 15 years.

The proposed changes would have:

• Limited starchy vegetables, such as white potatoes, corn, lima beans and green peas and potatoes to two servings a week. Currently, many schools serve French fries daily. Senators from potato-growing states such as Maine and Colorado, and groups including the National Potato Council, objected to the restrictions.

• Increased the amount of tomato paste that counts as a vegetable serving from 2 tablespoons to a half cup. Pizza slices with at least 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, under the current guidelines, are considered having a serving of vegetables.

• Limited the amount of sodium in school meals.

• Required half of all grains to come from whole grains.

Opponents of the new guidelines included the American Frozen Food Institute and the Salt Institute. Detractors voiced concerns over burdening schools with extra costs and underestimating the nutritional assets of tomato paste and starchy vegetables.

The new nutritional guidelines proposed by the USDA were based on 2009 recommendations by the Institute of Medicine, and are part of the government's efforts to resolve childhood obesity and other health concerns caused by lack of good nutrition through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

"The United States is facing an obesity epidemic and the crisis of poor diets threatens the future of our children and our nation," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a press release. According to the federal government, almost a third of children between the ages of 6 to 19 are overweight or obese, and thus at risk for other health conditions.

"It's a shame that Congress seems more interested in protecting industry than protecting children's health," Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in a statement. She compared the changes to efforts under the Reagan administration to credit ketchup as a vegetable.

Some local students are unhappy about pizza and fries remaining on the menu. Teens in the Young Farmer Training Program in Raleigh lamented the lack of healthy, nutritious food in their schools.

"Every day at my school they serve pizza and fries. It's not good food that's available," one boy told the Indy.

"Yeah, definitely not healthy food," a girl added. "I know that. When I was in public school it was so unhealthy. They have some healthy options, like salads in boxes, but nobody would get it. So it's kind of sad."

"Nothing fresh," another boy chimed in.

The group agreed. "Yeah, definitely nothing fresh."

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Pin It
Trade groups oppose USDA proposals for more nutritious meals


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Food

More by Maggie Smith

Twitter Activity


Sorry to hear of the closing of the Dillards Restaurant. Please don't stop selling my favorite Dillard's Bar B Q …

by Phyllis Walters on Dillard's Bar-B-Q Closes Its Doors (Food)

With all respect - right on! I thought of those exact points as I read the article. I'm very glad …

by Gcat1960 on New York Times article on North Carolina women chefs does a disservice to them and the profession (Food)

Most Read

Latest videos from the INDY

© 2015 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation