Congress Protects Pizza as a Vegetable in School Lunch

 Congress just sent a clear message that protecting industry is more important to them than protecting children's health.  Congress passed an Agriculture spending bill that weakens the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ability to implement strong, common-sense standards for school meals.  As a result of industry lobbying, the bill protects the dominant position of pizza and French fries in school lunches.

We need your help to let Congress know that you are disappointed that they didn’t stand up for children’s health.

The USDA has proposed common-sense standards for schools to double the servings of fruits and vegetables, increase whole grains and low-fat dairy, and set limits on calories, salt, and unhealthy fats.  Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives appropriations committee tried to bar USDA from moving forward with its new school meal standards.  Your emails were critical in thwarting that effort.  Then, the U.S. Senate dealt a blow to the process when it voted to block any restrictions on how often French fries can be served in school meals—limits that had been proposed to encourage kids to eat a wider variety of nutritious vegetables.  In addition, USDA’s proposal would have changed a policy that allows as little as two tablespoons of tomato paste to count as a serving of vegetables, allowing a slice of pepperoni pizza to count as a vegetable.  Unfortunately, the final bill includes a provision that will prevent the Obama Administration from closing this loophole.

At a time when child nutrition and childhood obesity are national health concerns, Congress should be supporting USDA and school efforts to serve healthier school meals, not undermining them.

Please email your Senators and Representative today and let them know that you’re disappointed in Congress’s actions to undercut these important improvements to school meals.