90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Monday, June 6, 2011

Government Takes Aim At Spuds In School Lunches

(Beau B/Flickr)

(Beau B/Flickr)

Here & Now Guest:

Heidi Kessler, a nutrition expert with Let’s Go, a private, non-profit childhood obesity prevention program working with schools in Maine

The USDA has proposed all but eliminating white potatoes from school meals for 32 million children across the country.  The plan is part of a push to cut down on the consumption of starchy vegetables and to fight childhood obesity.  It also comes after last year’s rule banning low-income pregnant women from using federal money to buy white potatoes.

The federal focus on the starchy vegetable has whipped up potato producers, who say the spud is a gateway to other vegetables.  It’s also riling nutritionists, who say it has a lot of vitamins and fiber, and school districts who tout the potato’s affordability.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Bronaghodonnell

    I grew up Irish and we ate potatoes every night. We are all thin. However, I have worked in a school lunch kitchen and any semblance of an actual potato was absence. Everything was fried, puffed, greased and soused. Change that and the chicken nuggets, and bingo you’re off to the races.

  • Gail, Fenton, MI

    I heard your show just now (1:40 pm) 6/6/11, and thought:
    fruits and grains 100% – that’s great!  Then I read the preview of the subject on your web page and thought: how awful, no potatoes. 

    I lived on potatoes when I was a kid.  I love potatoes!!!  What would some people do without potatoes? 

    I think a child should have a choice; grains OR potatoes, if we must choose.  And I must add, I’m one of the most healthy people in America and always have been.  I say — stick with potatoes!!!

    Gail Delaney
    Fenton, Michigan 

  • LoriB

    Potatoes are not to blame. If actual potatoes are used (and not potato-like products) and no items are allowed to be fried, I think that would go a long way in the right direction. Then, remove flavored milk, vending machines, snack lines, and anything that contains high-fructose corn syrup (like most ketchups).

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    The nanny state tells us what to eat; the nanny state feeds us.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if our social programs were aimed at making everyone able to make individual choices and then took a large step back to allow the people actually to choose?

    • the01chef

      Cause that’s working out so well now?  Someone or something needs to intervene, in hopes these kids can take away knowing whats good and whats not so good.  And who else is going to choose?  Parents?  They send worse crap 70% of the time in bag lunches.  Don’t get me wrong, I know the government doesn’t have health of children at heart in their doings, but its fact that parents, more often do worse in regards to bag lunches.  Nanny, unfortunately is exactly what the majority needs.

  • Dee

    I’m not so sure potatoes are the end all be all.  School lunch/breakfast makes me crazy in general. There’s nothing healthy to choose most days. The strawberries are covered in sugar goo . . . etc, etc. My kindergartener WOULD HAVE ate it without. I dare you to find a real meat. Now my child is doing things like refusing to eat the whole grain crackers she’s always ate. Instead she’s searching my cabinets because “I need 6 white crackers Mommy, to make a grain serving”. Ummmmm.

  • Fritzr1950

    Never knew white potatoes were so un-nutritious.  In my experience they are for boiling–served boiled or used in potato salads.

    I thought the villains were fried potatoes.  The best potato for frying is a baking potato.  For that matter the baking potato makes the best mashed potatoes, which were a school-lunch in my day.  Mashing boiling potatoes takes considerable effort.  

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

April 21 Comment

Remembering Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter

We remember the boxing champion, who was twice wrongly convicted of murder, with his longtime friend and defender.

April 21 2 Comments

‘Wait Wait’ Host Peter Sagal Runs Boston Marathon As Guide

For the second year in a row, the host of NPR's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me" is running with a legally blind athlete.

April 18 12 Comments

When Your Life Is On Fire, What Would You Save?

Erik Kolbell's new book asks what's most important to us in life -- loved ones, possessions, personal beliefs and more.

April 18 3 Comments

Adrianne Haslet-Davis Becomes Advocate For Amputees

The professional ballroom dancer reflects on the struggles and triumphs of the year since the marathon bombing.