Congress Clears Pizza, Fries for School Lunches

Wednesday, 16 Nov 2011 01:31 PM

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Congress has handed President Barack Obama a defeat in his administration’s efforts to make school lunches healthier. In effect, the congressional action means that school kids will not be deprived of pizza and french fries, The Washington Post reported.

The move thwarted efforts of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to put limits on potatoes served in cafeterias and to redefine tomato paste, now counted as a serving of vegetables. The definition makes it easier to market pizza to schools, the Post reported.

Congress got around the USDA by adding amendments to the agriculture spending bills before the House and Senate. “While it’s unfortunate that some members of Congress continue to put special interests ahead of the health of America’s children, USDA remains committed to practical, science-based standards for school meals,” according to a USDA statement.

Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest criticized the move. “Given all the concern about childhood obesity, Congress should be helping schools serve healthier foods, not hurting that effort,” she told the Post.

Wootan compared the decision with the Reagan administration’s unsuccessful efforts to count ketchup as a vegetable in school lunches.

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