Congress blocked an Obama administration attempt to make school lunches healthier this week, adjusting proposed nutritional guidelines in a way that will keep pizza and french fries on the menu, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
The Agriculture Department has been working on new nutritional guidelines for school lunches in a move to get more fruits and vegetables into cafeterias and to fight childhood obesity. But lawmakers pushed back on proposed rules for starchy vegetables and tomato paste, citing cost concerns and responding to intense lobbying from the food industry.
“While it’s unfortunate that some members of Congress continue to put special interests ahead of the health of America’s children, USDA remains committed to practical, science-based standards for school meals,” a statement from the department said, according to The Post.
The Agriculture Department had proposed a “one-cup per week limit on the amount of white potatoes and other starchy vegetables served to schoolchildren,” The Post reported. The department had also changed the nutritional guidelines on tomato paste. Current rules equate an eighth of a cup of tomato paste with one vegetable serving.
Lawmakers halted the new rules on potatoes and tomato paste in the final version of an Agriculture spending bill released on Monday. "The Senate and House are expected to vote on that version later this week," The Post reported.