USDA To Schools: Put Down The Potato

Nutrition Experts Say Spuds Get Bad Rap

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Under new USDA guidelines, potatoes and other starchy vegetables such as corn, peas and lima beans will be cut from school breakfasts. However, food experts think taking the items out altogether isn't the right move.

"I think they should have less starch and they should put in more vegetables," said Amanda Knowles, a mother of two children who attend Duval County Schools.

Knowles agrees with the new USDA rules, but Amy Peca, a clinical dietician at St. Vincent's Hospital, said spuds are getting a bad rap.

"Obviously an overabundance of potatoes is bad, but baked potatoes aren't an unhealthy option," Peca said. "They have potassium and iron."

Too much of anything is bad for growing children, and diet is only one portion of the obesity problem, she said.

"Part of the problem is, you eat bad as a child and continue as an adult, so if you can catch it younger, you have a better chance of being healthy as an adult," Peca said.

If all goes as planned, the new rules would take effect next summer. But first the USDA has to review 130,000 comments from supporters and opponents of the new menus.

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