R.I.P. Baked potato day? Cafeterias to cut back on spuds

(Mr. Potato Head via amazon.com)(Mr. Potato Head via amazon.com)2011 will go down as the year of the great potato debate. The USDA wants to cut back on serving spuds to school kids and some members of congress just aren't having it.

"I certainly agree that french fries is not the healthiest choice, but a baked potato can be a good source of potassium for our children," said Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who's teamed up with Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado to protect the baked potato's sanctity in school lunches.

Collins is referring to a new USDA guidelines released earlier this year that would limit the amount of potatoes served to kids during lunch to a serving a week and would obliterate all tater tots and similar breakfast species from school breakfast menus.

Meanwhile on team potato, growers are fighting back, claiming they're not part of the white bread and pasta clique. They're vegetables goshdarnit.

Vegetables with about 220 calories per serving, and that's without the deep frying.

In the current fight against childhood obesity, championed by first lady Michelle Obama, there's not a lot of sympathy for food that borders on fattening. The fact that starchy veggies like potatoes and beans aren't being supplemented for greens is a good thing. It wasn't long ago that even ketchup constituted a daily dose of veggies for kids. Now the fight for healthier school meals is making serious traction, upping the amount of low-cal veggies and fruits and minimizing the carb-laden fillers once a staple of school lunch trays.

Already schools have started shrinking the number of potatoes in the pantry. In Portland, cafeterias practice portion control offering variations of the dish only once or twice a week. If the USDA's guidelines go into effect as planned this summer, school lunches across the country will be serving even fewer 'taters than that next year.

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