DENVER, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- A proposal to limit starch in U.S. school lunches has drawn fire from Colorado Sen. Mark Udall as being unfair to his state's $300 million potato industry.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed changes in what can be served to more than 31 million children who eat school lunch every day. The plan includes lowering calorie counts and mandating more fruits, leafy green vegetables and whole grains and fewer servings of starchy vegetables including potatoes, lima beans, corn and peas, The Denver Post reported Monday.
Udall, a Democrat, calls for restricting the USDA from implementing a policy that "unnecessarily discriminates" against white potatoes.
Udall says he worries potatoes are being singled out in the nutritional debate, which could give them to a bad reputation and damage the state's potato farmers.
"I'm going to keep fighting for a balanced school lunch policy and encouraging children and families to stay active and healthy," Udall said, citing potatoes as a rich source of fiber and potassium.
The new rules will strain the financial resources of school districts, Udall said, because a box of potatoes is less expensive than a box of tomatoes.
"I'm concerned about the toll of the regulation on Colorado schools and farmers, especially when the economy is down and schools are struggling to find the resources to keep teachers in classrooms," Udall said.