No Potato Left Behind: Feds Want Potatoes Cut From School Menus

May 17, 2011

No matter if they're baked, whipped, mashed or fried, the USDA is proposing cutting all federal subsidies for "white potatoes" served in school breakfasts and sharply reducing subsidies for white potatoes in school lunch menus. Not surprisingly, the potato industry isn't really that hip on the idea. White potatoes are defined as any that aren't sweet potatoes. 

While the feds want to cut low-nutrition, high-fat foods like french fries from school cafeterias, the potato industry is positioning potatoes as a "gateway vegetable" that gets kids used to the idea of eating veggies. Cafeteria workers are scratching their heads trying to figure out how to eliminate home fries and hash browns from school breakfast menus. 

So where do you come down on this great school spud debate? Are white potatoes gateway veggies or just junk food? Let us know what you think in the comments below. 


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Sandy's picture

Potatoes are not junk food. School lunches are terrible for a number of reasons, but potatoes are not the problem.

multikulinaria's picture

No kidding?
Potatoe is the queen of vegetables. In Germany there is hardly a meal imaginable (lunch, though) were potatoes aren't involved. There are very few ways of cooking potatoes un-healthy but literally hundres to use them as healthy side dish. (dumplings, gnocchis, potatoes pealed and boiled in salty water, etc. etc.

RJ Flamingo's picture

Potatoes, themselves, are not the problem - it's how they're prepared. With the skins left on, potatoes contain pretty healthy amounts of Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, and they're fairly low-calorie. It's when you dump a lot of fat on/in them, that they become a problem. Bake the fries with less fat; serve baked potatoes topped with salsa, a little cheese & some plain yogurt. Hash browns & home-fries can still be on the menu if they're prepared with less fat & more flavor - add sauteed peppers, onions & garlic. Mashed potatoes can be made with broth instead of cream & loads of butter or whatever they're using instead of butter.

The point is, potatoes aren't the problem. The USDA should concentrate more on educating the cafeterias & providing the food products needed to make school lunches healthier, rather than demonizing a single food.

Anonymous's picture

Agree with R J Flamingo
The USDA needs to focus on revamping the lunch process to be better healthier from proper food storage, cooking, ect. instead of picking a bad guy to eliminate and saying now its better. Potatoes good not bad guy. Poorly handled, poorly cooked, unappealing food is the bad guy. They have great school lunch programs in France which we could do well to learn from. Also in my opinion part of problem with overweight is simply fats and sugar food are always on sale. Eating better costs more

Marc Cottrell's picture

Surely the ideal should be to produce a properly balanced diet, with a combination of protein, fibre, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals etc and yes fat.
As mentioned before it isn't potatoes that are the demons just the way they are served. Why not allow the kids to eat Fries or Hash Browns, but make sure that the portion is controlled and that there is little or no fat elsewhere on the plate

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