Verbatim Comments from the School Foodservice Survey Participants
“This is absolutely ridiculous; potatoes and corn don't make society fat! It is excessive calories consumed. Let’s get back to the root cause: portion size and over eating. Society needs to moderate all food eaten and count calories.”
“‘Healthier' vegetables aren't healthier if the students won't eat them. I serve additional vegetables in conjunction with potatoes and corn, thus giving the students more options”
“Our district offers many choices of fresh veggies and fruits on our salad bars in all our schools. I don't think yet one more government agency telling us what to serve makes that much difference in our district since we already serve so many veggies and fruits at each meal.”
At a time when school districts are struggling financially, needlessly increasing serving costs without a positive nutritional benefit is poor policy.
Did you know?
Potatoes are economical and keeping them on the menu will help ease the financial burden being placed on school budgets. Potatoes are a nutrient powerhouse offering 13% of a child’s daily potassium needs for less than 5 cents per serving. In addition, potatoes, along with carrots and sweet potatoes, offered the highest score per dollar on nine important nutrients – potassium, fiber, protein, vitamins A, C, E, calcium, iron and magnesium. Potatoes also were found to be the lowest cost source of potassium. USDA estimates the proposed meal plan will increase school lunch cost $6.8 billion over the course of five years. A significant part of this cost increase is due to the limit on potatoes.
The experts on the front lines have serious concerns with USDA’s proposed rules. In a recent national survey of 245 school food service directors:
- 40% believe that the quality of children’s health would decrease if the recommendations were adopted.
- Only 5% said the quality of children’s overall health would increase.
- 87% agree that limiting total lunch servings of potatoes, corn, peas and lima beans to one cup per week contradicts the USDA’s own 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), which encourages people to make “half their plate fruits and vegetables” and recommends increasing starchy vegetable consumption to five cups per week, up from three cups in the 2005 DGA.
Without a doubt, a varied diet is good for health. But according to the district school food service directors surveyed, serving a variety of healthy vegetables is already the norm in most school cafeterias.
- 94% of those surveyed said their schools offer a variety of vegetables that deliver the range of choices and nutrition children need for a healthy balanced diet.
More Waste, Higher Costs
The majority of survey respondents said the new ruling would:
- 60% said it will drive up food service costs.
- 64% said it will increase the amount of food kids dump in the trash.
- 65% expect a decrease in school lunch participation.
A newly developed alternative menu model illustrates that offering potatoes in kids’ school meals four times per week (and peas, corn or lima beans on the 5th day) actually meets or EXCEEDS nutrient targets set by the USDA proposed rule. This alternative meal plan proves limiting potatoes is not warranted. The USDA proposed meal plan limits school's flexibility, increases per serving costs, reduces access to a food kids like and does not increase nutrient delivery.