The Potato Fights to Stay in School Lunches

Potatoes are under attack. Despite their status as one of the most cherished parts of a school lunch, the federal government is looking to limit the starchy staple's presence in cafeterias. But French fries aren't going without a fight, though their support may be motivated more by politics than greasy adoration.

Find available tutors

healthy school lunches potatoes french fries tater tots

Tater Tots On the Outs

Over 31 million children eat school lunches every day. With a skyrocketing obesity epidemic, federal regulations on what these kids eat is a clear way to help control health concerns. Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed significant changes to school lunches that would slice servings of potatoes, as well as other starchy foods such as corn and peas, to one cup per week. Those tater tots, French fries and the like would be replaced by leafy green vegetables, whole grains and fruits.

The USDA's proposal is the result of a multiyear analysis of child nutrition. Scientists and doctors from the Institute of Medicine were consulted, while over 132,000 public comments were received. The goal is to encourage healthier eating habits among children. In addition to replacing starches with more nutritious options, the USDA is hoping to reduce sodium intake and establish calorie guidelines that vary based on a child's age.

Spud Supporters Fight Back

Colorado Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat, and Maine Senator Susan Collins, a Republican, co-wrote a letter in July that aimed to prevent the USDA's potato intolerance. Their goal is to restrict the organization's ability to spend money on 'unnecessarily discriminating' against potatoes and other starches. The letter pointed to the health benefits of potatoes, which are high in potassium and fiber.

It also noted the easy accessibility and affordability of foods like potatoes to schools, which make them a logical choice in tough economic times. The senators suggested that the USDA could inadvertently worsen nutrition in school lunches, as the foods they suggest increasing are less readily available to schools. They remarked that a box of tomatoes, for example, is far more expensive than a box of potatoes.

The Politics of Potatoes

Udall, Collins and other opponents of the USDA's proposal may not be the altruistic spud backers they seem to be. Colorado and Maine are leading potato-producing states, which suggests that the interests of potato farmers, rather than child nutrition, may be a key factor in their actions. Colorado, for example, is the nation's fourth-largest potato growing region, from which $293 million in spuds were produced in 2010. In the end, the French fry may be saved by lobbyists with little regard for the health habits of millions of children.

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

  • More Blog Articles
    Should IT Matter How Your Child's Teacher Dresses?

    Dress codes have long been a staple in many schools across the country. In some cases, students and even parents have opposed them. But what about dress codes for teachers? When it comes to this issue, just where do most people stand? And should a teacher's clothing even be of concern to parents?

  • More Blog Articles
    How Can You Know if College Is Right for Your Child?

    A prevailing school of thought is that most people need college in order to be successful. But this certainly may not always be the case. Quite simply, not everyone is college material. If your teen will soon be graduating from high school, you may need to contemplate whether college is right for your child.

We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In

Huntington Learning

  • What Huntington Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • One on one tutoring
  • Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
In-Center and Online


  • What K12 offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
  • AdvancED-accredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Online Only

Kaplan Kids

  • What Kaplan Kids offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Customized learning plans
  • Real-Time Progress Reports track your child's progress
Online Only


  • What Kumon offers:
  • In-center tutoring
  • Individualized programs for your child
  • Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
In-Center and Online

Sylvan Learning

  • What Sylvan Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
  • Regular assessment and progress reports
In-Home, In-Center and Online

Tutor Doctor

  • What Tutor Doctor offers:
  • In-Home tutoring
  • One on one attention by the tutor
  • Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
In-Home Only


  • What TutorVista offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Student works one-on-one with a professional tutor
  • Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations
Online Only

Our Commitment to You

  • Free Help from Teachers

  • Free Learning Materials

  • Helping Disadvantaged Youth