Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

New Guidelines Might Cut Spuds From School Lunches

In addition to white potatoes, starch-heavy corn and peas are also in danger of being cut in favor of leafy greens and orange vegetables.

box of white potatoes

Photo: graibeard (flickr)

White potatoes could be removed from school lunches if the USDA has its way.

Out With Spuds

The USDA is asking the question: Will cutting out white potatoes make school children healthier?

Starch-heavy corn and peas are also in danger of being cut in favor of leafy greens and orange vegetables, like the other spud: sweet potato.

Potato Power

The National Potato Council is fighting back… hard.

According to John Keeling, the council’s CEO, there may be unhealthy ways to prepare potatoes, but there are no inherently bad fruits or vegetables. He also expresses concern about the effect this decision could have on the potato industry’s bottom line. “When you force a limit on potatoes… 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.”

The council is even going so far as to say that potatoes are “gateway vegetables” that could eventually lead kids to other foods like carrots or spinach.

Researchers have found that the potato has sixty different beneficial compounds in varying amounts in both the flesh and skin of different strains of potatoes.

New Guidelines

The USDA’s new school lunch guidelines say that saturated fat, sugar and sodium have to be lowered while whole grains, fruits and vegetables need to be increased.

There are also set maximum calories per lunch:

  • Grade K-5 – 650 calories
  • Grade 6-8 – 700 calories
  • Grade 9-12 – 850 calories

The new guidelines must be implemented in schools by 2012.

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Katie Dawson

Katie Dawson is a sophomore at IU majoring in journalism and Spanish. Currently she lives in Bloomington, IN but is originally from Indianapolis. She enjoys cooking, eating and sometimes exercising.

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