The idea was that by limiting servings of white potatoes — whether baked, mashed, French-fried, hash-browned or tater-totted — as well as corn, lima beans and green peas, students would be encouraged to try a wider array of vegetables, including those in the dark green and orange groups that contain essential nutrients such as folate and beta carotene.
The USDA's own evaluation of school lunches has found that when faced with a choice of vegetables, kids will choose a starchy vegetable 75% of the time, Wootan says. Most often this means French fries, but other white potato forms also are popular.
Who was against the USDA's proposed changes?
Some players in the food industry, including the American Frozen Food Institute, a trade group based in McLean, Va., and Schwan's Food Service Inc., a Marshall, Minn.-based company that supplies frozen pizzas to 75% of U.S. schools.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), from Schwan's home state, wrote a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack extolling the nutritional value of tomato paste. And Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) from big potato-producing states joined with the National Potato Council to fight the limits on starchy vegetables.