US Catholic Faith in Real Life

The politics of pizza

Liz Lefebvre | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

In the category of “It’s dumb that...,” we can now add this: It’s dumb that two tablespoons of tomato paste on a slice of pizza will continue to be considered a serving of vegetables in our nation’s schools.

This year, the USDA tried to push legislation to limit starches and sodium while increasing the amount of whole grains found in school lunches. Now, courtesy of a new House spending bill, these proposed standards will unravel, and tomato paste will continue to count as a vegetable (we can save the debate on if tomaotes should be considered fruits or veggies for a later day).

There has been plenty of discussion and disagreement on possible solutions to our current budget crisis, with the knowledge that as a nation, we'll likely have to pick and choose between a vast number of priorities to come to any semblance of financial resolution. However, it's still hard to grasp how nutrition for children is something that can so easily be voted down, especially when it’s no secret that our country has an obesity crisis--especially among children--and that costs associated with obesity are also high.

For proponents of defense spending: nutrition in schools can be considered a military problem, as the AP piece notes how obesity is the most common medical reason that prevents people from qualifying for serving in the military.

Some argue that the government shouldn’t tell schools what to serve kids, but how can we not agree that people--especially our children--should be eating healthy, nutritious meals?

I suppose when you spend around $440,000 lobbying for this new spending bill, like the National Potato Council and the American Frozen Food Institute did (in the name of promoting the nutritional value of pizza), your priorities might be elsewhere. 

It's amazing what a few hundred thousand dollars can get you: for these companies, it bought a chance to continue to increase their profits. But for our school kids, this money will make it harder to access the nutrition they need to grow up healthy.