Baked Potato originally uploaded by Igor Schwarzmann
According to this article via NPR, the USDA is looking to limit the number of servings of potatoes children have access to for school lunches. Fearing that when given a choice, school children will generally choose the potato and “so french fries crowd out other vegetables that kids need.” However as soon as this plan was mentioned the Potato Lobby immediately got to work fighting the proposed guidelines with claims that “the new rules would lead to higher costs, more wasted food, and lower participation in the school lunch program.”
From the first article:
HUANG: Walker ascribes to the U.S.D.A.’s assertion that there are healthier vegetables out there for kids to be eating. A Harvard study released last summer shows that potatoes, especially french fries and chips, top the list of foods that contribute to weight gain for Americans. Health advocates acknowledge that potatoes does offer potassium and fiber.
HUANG: Main (sic) is the nation’s sixth largest potato producer. Senator Susan Collins says a legitimate concern about the over-consumption of french fries is leading people to vilify the simple potato and that will cost schools as they turn to pricier veggies.
Senator SUSAN COLLINS: The department itself estimates that this could add $6.8 billion to the cost of school lunches over the next five years.
However, is $6.8 billion on school lunches that much to pay when the health of American children continues to decline as they are overfed processed foods, starchy vegetables, and fried foods? While the articles do not delve into either, the question remains a good one. They do note that by including options such as baked potato bars in schools, kids are offered the chance “to eat other vegetables and important foods like low fat cheese and broccoli and spinach.” But as mentioned above, with the options available, children will generally choose the least healthy option when given the chance (and most certainly won’t be offered the selection used for the photo heading up this post) so it is unclear if keeping potatoes is really the panacea that the lobby claims.
How often do you feed your family starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn? Do you use them in lieu of or in conjunction with other more healthy vegetables? Do you serve primarily fried potatoes or those made in a less unhealthy manner? Do you think that the government should pay more out to the schools to allow for an array of healthier options at lunch so that we’re paying for it on the front end rather than the back end while dealing with obese children? Does one or two meals a day at school really help when families are feeding children fast-foods for many weekly dinners? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.