USDA's proposed changes to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP) continue to generate strong debate among legislators in Washington, D.C., and are creating a buzz in the national media.
The proposed changes in the NSLP and the SBP programs include a limitation of one cup a week on starchy vegetables, lima beans, peas, corn and potatoes. USDA estimates that the proposal will result in increased costs of $6.8 billion over five years to schools.
On May 31, the House appropriations committee approved a bill to fund agricultural programs for fiscal year 2012. The bill, approved in subcommittee and scheduled for consideration by the House of Representatives on June 15, instructs USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to propose a new meal plan that does not increase the costs for the NSLP and the SBP.
USDA received more than 150,000 comments during the 90-day public comment period that ended on April 13.
John Keeling, National Potato Council executive vice president and CEO, appeared on Fox & Friends on May 17. You can view the segment at http://video.foxnews.com/v/4699886.
On the same day, the Wall Street Journal published an article that focused on the additional costs schools face in making the changes and featured quotes from nutritionists in Idaho and Maine.
Maine's Senator Olympia Snowe sent letters to First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary Vilsack criticizing the USDA's plan and seeking the first lady's and Vilsack's assistance in correcting the faults of the current proposal.
Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, attacked the proposal for its increased costs and the "scapegoating" of lima beans, peas, corn and potatoes in the fight against childhood obesity.
You can read Snowe's comments here, and Schmidt's comments here.