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Share Your Thoughts: Pizza as 'Vegetable' in School Lunches

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I recently spent a day speaking to high school students at my alma mater, where my sister is a senior. I was thrilled to see healthier options (like fruit and salads) than when I was there, but looking up and down the table, most of the kids had French fries, some variation of breaded meat on a white bun, and chocolate milk or a juice drink. Many also had a vegetable or, more commonly, a piece of fruit, but those bags of French fries were ubiquitous--just as they were when I was in school.

Clearly, kids are still resisting the healthier options in the lunch line, but I don't think any of them would argue that the pizza and French fries they love so much should be considered vegetables.

Pizza is a vegetable, at least according to the government. More specifically, the tomato paste on frozen pizza served at schools is considered a vegetable. And French fries stay on the menu, too.

Last January, the Agriculture Department proposed changes that would have limited the number of potatoes served each week and required that at least 1/4 cup of tomato paste be used per serving before pizza could be categorized as a vegetable.

The changes were aimed at reducing childhood obesity rates and getting more greens veggies and fruits to the lunch tray--and cutting the amount of salt in half over the next decade.

We already know that eating lunch at school increases a child's risk of being obese, so what happened? Congress last week blocked the Agriculture Department from moving forward with those rules, and the status quo lunches will remain.

This news
surprised me, but I want to know what you think: What is your opinion on the matter? What actions should be taken? Does pizza count as a vegetable?