USDA Upgrades School Breakfast and Lunch Programs, but Pizza Still a Vegetable

Saturday, January 28, 2012
At the urging of First Lady Michelle Obama, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has adopted the first substantial changes to school meals in 15 years.
The new standards, set out in a 280-page document, call for adding more vegetables and fruits as well as whole grains, while scaling back on meat and potatoes.
Changes include doubling the amount of fruits and vegetables offered; increasing the variety of vegetables served to include dark greens; offering only fat-free or low-fat milk; and reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.
The USDA also decided to limit the serving of potatoes at breakfast and eliminate a requirement that meat be served with breakfast meals. The National Potato Council sought to portray the new guidelines as a form of vegetable discrimination in which certain vegetables are given preference over others…such as potatoes. However, the potato industry actually had much to celebrate since French fries retained their status as an acceptable vegetable.
Because the tomato paste on pizzas was also declared a vegetable, two other winners in the dubious nutritional value category were ConAgra Foods Inc., maker of Hunt’s tomato paste, and Schwan Food Co., which controls 70% of the school pizza market.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
32 Million Reasons to Cheer the USDA (by Nancy Huehnergarth, Huffington Post)

Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs (U.S. Department of Agriculture) (pdf) 


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