The federal government is considering a ban on potatoes in school lunch programs. Of course, this has potato growers in an outrage. Tater tot-loving kids aren’t so keen on it either.
Limits have already been placed on the starchy tuber. Families on the WIC program can’t use their funds to buy potatoes, since studies showed that they were already well-represented in the diets of these low-income families. The ban was a trial and program administrators will make a decision on whether to continue with the limits or lift it.
Why are the feds picking on the potato?
They’re not, really. Instead, they say they’re trying to encourage children and families to eat a greater variety of fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens.
I’m not much in favor of telling grown-ups what to eat, but kids? Yes, sure. Let’s make the choices for them. I agree that potatoes — especially the big, fluffy, white Russet ones — are over-represented in school lunches and many kids’ diets in general. Yes, I know they’re veggies and there is some nutritional value to them. But not as they’re typically served — fried. Tater tots, fries and chips aren’t health foods.
Let’s get kids who are dependent on free nutrition programs eating other types of veggies. If they demand potatoes, make it sweet potatoes or one of the varieties of blue, purple, red and yellow. Perhaps that will give potato growers an incentive to diversify their crops, which could bring down the prices and improve diets in general.
And still leave room for tater tots once in awhile. Win-win.
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