Congress used legislation to head off two proposed rule changes, one concerning tomato paste and one concerning potatoes, in federal school lunch guidelines.
• The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) wanted to change the vegetable rating on tomato paste, the ingredient that qualifies pizza a vegetable. Currently, an eighth of a cup of tomato paste counts as a half a cup of vegetables, which the government considers a full serving. As a result, a slice of pizza is deemed to be the equivalent of a whole serving of vegetables.
The USDA would have required half a cup of tomato paste to count as half a cup of vegetables. This would have effectively ended pizza's status as a vegetable and forced school cafeterias to serve regular vegetables along with a slice of pizza to meet the vegetable requirement.
• Congress also approved a so-called "French fry amendment" to keep the USDA from cutting servings of starchy vegetables, such as corn, peas and potatoes. The USDA proposed to limit starchy vegetables to one cup a week in an acceptable school menu. Cutting to one cup a week of starchy vegetables was supposed to get children to eat other kinds of vegetables, preferably the leafy green and orange kind, to meet overall vegetable standards. The French fry amendment struck down the one-cup limit and left schools able to regularly serve starchy vegetables, including French fries, to meet the national standard for vegetable servings.
Schwan Food Co., based in Marshall, Minn., has contributed to the campaigns of several members of the Minnesota congressional delegation. Below is the total amount donated to each lawmaker from 2008 through 2010.
Sen. Norm $11,000 * Coleman (R)
Rep. Erik $10,000 Paulsen (R)
Rep. Collin $6,000 Peterson (D)
Rep. John $4,000 Kline (R)
Sen. Amy $3,500 Klobuchar (D)
Rep. Michele $2,000 Bachmann (R)
* Term ended January 2009