Health: Polis seeks to end the school-lunch pizza loophole


Bill to be introduced next week

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — There’s nothing wrong with a good slice of pizza every now and then, but nutrition advocates draw the line at defining the popular Italian food as a vegetable. But that’s exactly what Congress did last November, when they carved a set of far-reaching loopholes into a new set of nutritional standards for school lunches.

Of course nobody actually believes pizza should be classified as a vegetable, and there was a lot winking and nudging going on last year, as food industry lobbyists cozied up with their Congressional counterparts to pass the exemptions.

Deep-pocketed companies like ConAgra Foods, Inc, and Schwan Food Co,  as well as French fry makers McCain Foods Ltd and J.R. Simplot Co all cashed in their political chips to weaken government proposals for voluntary food marketing guidelines to children.

Congress held firm despite widespread public ridicule, showing once again that money talks. But now, Congressman Jared Polis, a liberal Boulder Democrat, is taking direct aim at the food industry with a bill that will challenged the status quo.

Polis said that next week he’ll unveil legislation to restore sensible nutrition standards for pizza in the meals our children eat at schools.

Polis will be joined by Boulder Valley School District Food Service Director, Ann Cooper, who has been a leader in improving nutrition in school meals. The two will deliver brief remarks, take questions and discuss the importance of school nutrition with students and educators.

“They started out with French fries and now they have moved on to pizza,”  Polis said in an interview with Reuters last year. “Pizza alone (without side dishes) … common sense, it’s not a vegetable,” he said.

The new rules still provide for more fresh fruits and vegetables in school lunches, but Polis’ measure would do away with the absurb definition of pizza as a vegetable.


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