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Entries in Potatoes (2)

Tuesday
Oct182011

Senators Fight to Keep Potatoes in School Lunches

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A group of Senators from potato-producing states are working to help reverse the “bad rap” that potatoes have received in recent years and to save the school lunch program from banning or severely limiting spuds in the national school lunch program.

Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Mark Udall, D-Colo., have proposed an amendment to the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill that would protect schools’ flexibility in serving healthy fruits and vegetables in the school breakfast and lunch programs.

New guidelines released in January from the U.S. Department of Agriculture would reduce the use of potatoes, including white potatoes, in school lunches to a total of one cup per week.  The rule would also ban starchy vegetables from the School Breakfast Program completely, starting next year.

The Senators' amendment would prevent the USDA from moving forward by limiting the options of local school districts, which Collins calls an “arbitrary limitation” on spuds.  Collins says that this would amount to discrimination against a vegetable with more potassium than a banana, which is cholesterol free, low in fat and sodium, and “can be served in countless healthy ways.”

The Senators argue against the significant costs that school districts would incur if they couldn’t use potatoes, which are cheap when compared to other vegetables, in school meals.

“I’ve heard from school lunch providers in Colorado that this restriction would result in significant challenges for food service operations through increased costs, reduced flexibility and decreased school meal participation,” Udall said.  "In some areas increased flexibility to serve this nutritious and available vegetable can actually help schools manage cost so they can help afford to purchase other more expensive vegetables."

Collins’ office says she is working with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to encourage schools to find better ways to prepare the potato, rather than ban or severely limit it.

The amendment could be up for a vote as early as this week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May182011

USDA Proposal Cuts Potatoes in Schools

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As part of a push to make school meals healthier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed removing white potatoes from all federally subsidized school breakfasts and limiting them dramatically in lunches.

The proposal is intended to reduce the amount of starchy vegetables, such as french fries and tater tots, students eat. Starch-heavy corn and peas are also being cut in favor of leafy greens and orange vegetables, such as sweet potatoes. Yes, not all potatoes are created nutritionally equal.

But the potato is not going down without a fight. The National Potato Council is, naturally, an outspoken critic of the plan.

"There may be preparations that are better than others, but there are no bad fruits or vegetables," said John Keeling, the council's CEO. "When you force a limit on potatoes and you force other things in there you drive the cost up, you reduce the flexibility of the schools, you take away a vegetable that kids like and you run the risk of...delivering less nutrition."

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, also stood up for the spud during a USDA budget hearing in March. In 2010, Maine produced more than six percent of America's potatoes, according to the Maine Potato Board.

"One medium white potato has nearly twice as much vitamin C as an entire head of iceberg lettuce," said Collins. "My question, Mr. Secretary, is what does the department have against potatoes?"

The USDA says it's trying to expose children to an array of healthy foods, and while there is nothing wrong with potatoes, children already consume enough of them.

The National Potato Council believes the proposal, which could go into effect as early as the 2012-2013 school year, will not increase the amount of vegetables kids eat. The council, citing its survey of food service professionals, says that potatoes are a gateway to other vegetables, and that kids eat more of the other types of vegetables when potatoes are on their plate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio