Limit on potatoes in cafeterias draws bipartisan push-back
Northwest senators are trying to block new federal guidelines for school lunches. An amendment introduced Monday to an agriculture appropriations bill is a response to a recommended cutback on potato servings. Both of Idaho's senators and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden are backing the amendment.
The USDA is recommending that districts in the National School Lunch Program limit servings of starchy vegetables to one cup a week per student. The means fewer dollops of corn, lima beans and most politically charged — potatoes.
The effort to block those guidelines has attracted bi-partisan support from potato-producing states like Maine, Nebraska, Colorado, Idaho and Oregon.
Frank Muir heads the Idaho Potato Commission, which helps market the state's trademarked spud.
"Every state grows potatoes," he says. "Now, Idaho is the No. 1 growing state, but we represent one-third of all U.S. potatoes. So this is an important issue for really every state in the union."
Muir argues the rules will increase the cost of school lunches.
A spokeswoman for the USDA has said the new rules are based on recommendations from the national Institute of Medicine. Experts there found that kids were getting enough potatoes at home and suggested making room for more green leafy vegetables.
Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network
On the Web:
USDA School Lunch Program:
Idaho Potato Commission:
Institute of Medicine report (2009):