Jared Polis hopes to reverse "pizza is a vegetable" loophole
Representative Jared Polis wants to introduce legislation that promises to reverse Congress's controversial decision to keep pizza lsbeled a "vegetable" in school lunches. "What Congress has done, believe it or not, is defied logic," Polis said in front of a crowd of lunchtime students at Louisville Middle School on Monday. "Congress said that eating pizza is the same as eating peas, or green beans, or broccoli."
Last November, Congress blocked the U.S. Department of Agriculature's efforts to update school lunch nutrition standards, including ensuring that the tomato paste on pizza would no longer qualify the entire pie to be considered a vegetable. Polis maintains that frozen-food industry lobbyists pressured Congress to ""artificially inflate" the amount of tomato paste in one slice of pizza.
"Agri-businesses should never dictate the quality of school meals," he added. "Will Twinkies be declared a vegetable next?"
The appropriately named SLICE Act (School Lunch Improvements for Children's Education) would restore the USDA's power to set standards in school nutrition, including creating goals for sodium reduction, implementing a whole-grain requirement and allowing the agency to accurately count the amount of tomato paste in a slice of pizza as 1/8 of a cup -- not the 1/2 cup that allows it to qualify as a vegetable.
Both Polis and Boulder Valley School District Food Service Director Ann Cooper , who joined the congressman at the announcement, said they had no intention of demonizing pizza.
"I think pizza can be part of a healthy diet in school," Cooper said -- and proved it by providing an example of a healthy school lunch that included 'za. "I'm fine with serving pizza. But not instead of vegetables."
Polis said he hopes to include the amendment in an agriculture bill that may come before Congress this session.
More photos of Monday's announcement and Cooper's healthy lunch are on the next page.