Senate Spares Potato From Being Slashed on School Menus

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Earlier on, President Obama expressed his intent to limit the consumption of potatoes by millions of children in school all over the country. However, senate leaders have stood up to save the humble food and rebuffed the POTUS’ effort.

The current administration has drafted a proposal to limit the quantity of potatoes and other foods rich in starchy vegetables in foods that can be served in school cafeterias. The limit is about one cup per student per week. Furthermore, the said products are also banned from school breakfasts. The effort of the administration can also be noticed from the First Lady herself who is also a staunch advocate against childhood obesity.

Last Tuesday, the senate moved to oppose the proposal by adopting an amendment to the 2012 spending bill for the Agriculture Department. The said amendment which was unanimously approved, prohibited the administration from setting maximum limits in serving the vegetables in school meal programs.

Senators Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, set aside individual differences and stood for the potato, a crop which is grown in huge quantities in their home states. They said the proposal had no basis in nutrition science.

“The proposed rule would prevent schools from serving an ear of fresh corn one day and a baked potato another day of the same week, an utterly absurd result,” according to Mrs. Collins.

Mr. Udall also shared that, “Anything can be fried or drowned in any number of fats available to us as consumers.” The problem, he said, is not with the potato, but with how it is sometimes prepared.

In the Agricultural Department’s definition, the term “starchy vegetables” include white potatoes, corn, green peas and lima beans. By limiting consumption of them, the department said, it hopes to “encourage students to try new vegetables in place of the familiar starchy ones.”

But Ms. Collins, who grew up amid the potato fields of northern Maine, said: “Potatoes have more potassium than bananas. They are cholesterol-free and low in fat and sodium and can be served in countless healthy ways.” At about a nickel per serving, she said, they are “a great nutritional bargain.”

“The department was well intended in trying to improve the nutritional quality of school meals,” Ms. Collins said, “but in this case it just missed and went too far.”

The American Association of School Administrators which include thousands of local school officials said that the standards proposed by the administration were “overly prescriptive and limit school district flexibility in offering fruits and vegetables.”

 

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  1. While I do think we have a tendency to overeat some of these starchy vegetables, I do think that the limits proposed are too restrictive. There are better ways to improve lunch menus than simply eliminating or limiting starchy vegetables.

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