WASHINGTON – The Senate threw its support behind the potato Tuesday, voting to block an Obama administration proposal to limit the vegetable on school lunch lines.
Agriculture Department rules proposed earlier this year aimed to reduce the amount of french fries in schools, limiting lunchrooms to two servings a week of potatoes and other starchy vegetables. That angered the potato industry, some school districts and members of Congress from potato-growing states, who say USDA should focus on the preparation instead and that potatoes can be a good source of fiber and potassium.
Following a bipartisan agreement on the issue, the Senate by voice vote accepted an amendment by Republican Sen. Susan Collins that would block the USDA from putting any limits on serving potatoes or other vegetables in school lunches.
Collins, who is from Maine, a potato-growing state, says the vegetables are a cheaper and nutritious way to feed children when school budgets are strapped. She said after the vote that it was a “victory for common sense” and hoped the strong bipartisan vote would send a message to the USDA.
“This proposed rule would have imposed significant and needless costs on our nation’s school districts at a time when they can least afford it,” she said.