Pizza: School Lunches’ New Ketchup

In the 80s, President Ronald Reagan was famous for allowing the school lunch program to cut costs by counting ketchup as a vegetable serving to help prop up the “two vegetables a lunch” requirement.  More recently, the government fought over whether or not to limit the amount of potatoes that can be fed to school children as part of a “healthy” lunch.

Now, a new battle is being waged, and it’s over pizza.

Business interests like Conagra and Schwanns are lobbying Congress, insisting that the tomato paste being used on a slice of pizza should continue to count as a full serving of vegetables under the new federal guidelines being created.  The new healthier lunch standards, which are being designed to encourage kids to eat more green vegetables and help reign in childhood obesity, are once more falling prey to agricultural groups afraid of losing one of their biggest customers — the federal government.  And many advocates in Congress are on the businesses’ side. Margo Wootan, director for Nutrition Policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, stated, “Basically Congress is fighting to keep pizza and French fries on the school menus when we have an obesity problem nationally. It’s shameful.”

The industry lobbyists’ response?  California-based organizer Barry Sackin “argued that the school programs represent only 16 percent of what a typical child eats each year and too much pressure is being put on one point in what’s really a larger health problem for the nation.”

See, it’s not the school’s fault that kids are eating too much unhealthy food, and if they were simply eating a healthy diet at home, surely having one out of every three meals a day being bad for them wouldn’t make that drastic of a difference.

So, check your school lunch menu next year.  Between pizza, french fries and a side of ketchup, your student will likely be eating so many vegetable servings at school you’ll hardly need to worry about what they eat at home.

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Nicole Pauline Sedkowski
Nicole Sedkowski3 years ago

I can't believe this is actually a debate! I stuck between laughing incredolously and slamming my against a desk at the sheer stupidity!

Jane Warre
Jane Warren3 years ago

thnxs for this - it has improved my knowledge of healthy eating

Nicole G.
Nicole Gorman4 years ago

It's amazing what the power of lobbyists can accomplish, like furthering obesity and harming the health of our children. Pizza is not in and of itself completely unhealthy (grain, cheese, tomatoes) but considering it a vegetable to meet requirements rather than providing our children with REAL whole fruits and vegetables is reprehensible!!

Marlene C.
Marlene C.4 years ago

Pizza, every now and then, is not a problem. It can be made from whole grain crust and low fat cheese. However, calling it a "vegetable" is beyond idiotic -- though NOTHING, short of green jello, will ever beat ketchup !

Rita White
Rita White4 years ago


Howard C.
.4 years ago

For some children their school meal is quite likely to be the only balanced meal that they get in a day. Regarding tomatoes, which are a fruit not a vegetable, there is no doubt that they are good for us, they contain lycopene, but this is really testing reason.

Pam W.
Pami W.4 years ago

Tomato is a fruit. I thought so anyway.

Ruby W.
Ruby W.4 years ago

I agree with Ms. Wootan

Hilary E.
Hilary E.4 years ago

so lame

Christia F.
Christia F.4 years ago

Thank you for posting this article. Peace, Tia