From potatoes to pizza: The school lunch debate continues

Nov. 15—After last month’s Senate amendment, which sparred starchy vegetables, most notably white potatoes, from being limited on school menus, pizza is now taking center stage in the ongoing school lunch debate. According to Politico, a new piece of legislation is expected to be made public Monday that would count tomato paste on pizza as a serving of vegetables.

Not surprisingly, not everyone is happy about the proposed “pizza loophole.” More than 100 retired generals and admirals recently urged Congress to reject these new efforts. Citing Defense Department estimates that one in four adults are too overweight to join the military the former military officials noted that obesity is the leading medical disqualifier for military service.

"We are outraged that Congress is seriously considering language that would effectively categorize pizza as a vegetable in the school lunch program. It doesn't take an advanced degree in nutrition to call this a national disgrace," Amy Dawson Taggart, director of the national security non-profit Mission: Readiness, said in a press release. "This is more than just a food fight on Capitol Hill. This new effort to undermine school nutrition regulations raises national security concerns."

The release noted that this is not the first time that military leaders have asked lawmakers to address the nutritional needs of children as a matter of national security. One of the main reasons the National School Lunch Program was enacted after World War II was due to the poor nourishment of would-be recruits.

"Given that the USDA has spent the past year finalizing science-based standards to limit salt, unhealthy fats, and calories and include more nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, and whole grains as part of school cafeteria menus, you'd think we'd be off to the races and kids would soon be eating much healthier food at school,” Taggart said on the release. “Instead, we appear to be reliving the past battles over ketchup as a vegetable. If schools—or industry lobbyists—want to count pizza as a vegetable, they should make a pizza that meets the vegetable standards, not tamper with the standards to create a pizza loophole.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

After shutting down 265 schools due to ongoing wildfires, the Los Angeles Unified School District kept three schools open on Friday and Saturday to provide meals for students and their families, the Los Angeles Times reports.

At one of the schools, employees and volunteers handed out around 100 meals on Friday and 270 meals on Saturday. The meals included items such as dragonfruit punch, raisins, bananas, sunflower kernels, whole-grain cinnamon graham crackers, sunflower seed butter and fat-free chocolate milk.

Around 80% of students in the district come from low-income...

Sponsored Content
Breakfast chili

From Bush’s Best®.

While decadent plates of French toast and pancakes stacked high will always be breakfast favorites, it’s undeniable that savory breakfast items are on the rise in many foodservice operations. Menu items such as avocado toast and omelets aren’t new, of course, but consumers’ preferences for better-for-you food choices, along with their desire for global flavors, are driving this trend.

According to a recent Technomic Breakfast report, consumer demand for vegetarian ingredients has led to an increase of ingredients like soy, tofu, beans, lentils, seeds,...

Industry News & Opinion

Industry veteran Joseph Fassler, 75, passed away on Dec. 1 after fighting cancer.

Dedicating over 50 years to foodservice, Fassler was the former president and CEO of Phoenix-based Restaura Inc., as well as a former chair of the National Restaurant Association and its Educational Foundation . In addition, he served on the advisory board for Northern Arizona University’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, and on the board of Oklahoma State University’s College of Human Environmental Sciences.

Fassler was given numerous awards throughout his career, including IFMA’s...

Industry News & Opinion

New York’s Department of Labor is seeking to overhaul the pay rules for foodservice employees and other workers whose job schedules might be tweaked at the last minute.

The proposals are a twist on the predictable-schedule laws that have been cropping up across the country. New York’s suggested rule changes look to protect call-in employees, or staff members who essentially are on standby to come into work if a shift is particularly busy. Although that setup is more of a convention in retailing, many restaurants also use that model, particularly during holiday seasons or on busy...

FSD Resources