Fairfield schools take issue with pizza-as-vegetable guideline

January 8, 2012 by  

A slice of pizza can be defined as a vegetable as long as it contains two tablespoon of tomato sauce, according to current USDA school lunch programs guidelines. Fairfield Public Schools disagree with the federal definition, saying any way you slice it, pizza is not a veggie.

Serving pizza is fine, as long as it doesn’t take the place of a real vegetable, according to Joann Fitzpatrick, food and nutrition services manager for Fairfield school. A well-balanced school lunch menu, including vegetables such as corn, green beans or peas, along with fruit, grains, protein and milk are the basics of the National School Lunch Program (NLSP) guidelines, added Fitzpatrick.

Congress recently shot down proposed changes to the USDA’s school lunch recommendations that would have doubled the amount of tomato paste from two tablespoons to four tablespoons for pizza to be regarded as an authentic vegetable on a school lunch menu.

Michelle McCabe a member of Fuel for Learning Partnership, a Fairfield PTA Council standing committee, said the decision by Congress to override the increase in tomato paste on pizza “is a blow to the health of our nation’s children.”

Flyer printing explaining the school districts position that pizza is unacceptable as a veggie may help parents and students understand what school leaders define as bona fide vegetables.

Fairfield Public Schools plan to disregard the federal government’s allowance that pizza fulfils the vegetable portion of the lunch program, particular in light of the fact that childhood obesity rates continue to rise, McCabe pointed out.