In recent weeks parents all over the Pittsburgh area have been reading headlines declaring that Congress has decided their children’s schools can now count Pizza as a vegetable. Yes you did read that right, Pizza, a vegetable. But is that really what congress said? Could they possibly have made yet another drastic change by claiming pizza is actually a vegetable? No. Actually they didn’t. But before we get into what they really said lets take a look at where all of this is coming from.
The Agricultural Department and the Obama Administration proposed new nutritional guidelines for school lunches in an attempt to make them more healthy for Americas youth. They wanted to include a one cup per week limit to white potatoes and other starchy vegetables, along with making a change to the nutritional guidelines on tomato paste (remember that because we will come back to it).
Changes have not been made to the $11 billion school lunch program in 15 years. With Americas youth at their heaviest many people agree that now is the time to make changes. Changes that can improve the health of our youth, and in turn the health of our country. Still others argue that making the changes that The Agricultural Department are proposing will cost more money than schools have and create far more waste as children would be throwing away more food than they currently are.
Every Pittsburgher and American with school aged children should be concerned with these proposed changes, but more importantly they should be concerned with the current standards. You see, the reason everyone is finally talking about this issue is because it has been declared loud and clear in papers and online news sources that Pizza is now a vegetable. The truth about this is schools have been receiving credit for a vegetable for each serving of Pizza it serves for a very long time. But lets be clear the Pizza itself is NOT a vegetable.
Schools across the United States are actually receiving the vegetable credit for the tomato paste that is on the Pizza. Currently each 1/8 serving of Tomato Paste counts as one serving of vegetables. Yes, I said currently, and probably should remind you that several paragraphs ago I stated these policies have been in place for 15 years. That means for a 15 years Pizza has been counted as a serving of vegetables, not because Pizza IS a vegetable, but because an ingredient in the Pizza is a vegetable.
If Pizza (more specifically the tomato paste) has been credited as a vegetable for 15 years and we are just now finding out about it what else do we not know about what our children are eating at school? Is it time that Americans really started paying attention to what our children are eating? Is it time that we stood up and stopped letting the makers of frozen pizza and other unhealthy foods lobby our Congress to allow these items to be served daily in our schools?
Changes won’t be made until Americans start to speak up. If you think the amount of unhealthy food served in schools is okay and that Congress blocking the bill to improve those meals is okay, then do nothing. However, if you see a problem with the direction things are headed call your local Congressman, write them letter, send letters to the editors of your local papers, contact your local school and check their policies and menu…… get involved.
To read the follow up article on school lunches you may click here.
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