Is pizza a vegetable? New bill would make it official
November 16th, 2011
01:00 PM ET
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The idea of a well-rounded school lunch may skip the "wellness" factor and skip straight to the "rounded" - in the form of pizza.

Congress unveiled its latest short-term $182 billion spending bill late Monday, which among the legislation, would deny funding to the new - and healthier - school meal nutrition standards the Department of Agriculture proposed earlier this year amid growing concerns of childhood obesity.

The new USDA standards included increasing the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk while decreasing the amount of sodium, saturated fat and starchy potatoes.

If passed, the spending bill would keep French fries on school lunch trays and allow a serving of pizza to be considered a vegetable if it is spread with two tablespoons of tomato paste.

"If finalized, this legislation may go down in nutritional history as a bigger blunder than when the Reagan Administration tried (but failed) to credit ketchup as a vegetable in the school lunch program. Pizza should be served with a vegetable, not count as one," said Margo Wootan, Nutrition Policy Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, in a statement.

The House and the Senate are expected to vote on the bill later this week before sending it to President Barack Obama.

Should the proposed USDA guidelines be overturned, and should pizza be considered a vegetable in school lunches? Dish it out in the comments below.

soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. ophu

    NOTE: Pizza has no fiber.

    December 1, 2011 at 7:01 am |
  2. ophu

    School Pizza: Nutrition Facts
    Serving Size: 1 slice
    Amount per Serving
    Calories 530
    Calories from Fat 189.0
    % Daily Value *
    Total Fat 21g
    Saturated Fat 12g
    Cholesterol 81mg
    Sodium 1333mg
    Total Carbohydrate 44g
    Dietary Fiber 0g
    Sugars 0g
    Protein 39g
    Est. Percent of Calories from:
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calories needs.

    December 1, 2011 at 6:59 am |
  3. Gastric Bypass Man

    It’s difficult to get knowledgeable people today on this subject, but you sound like you know what you are talking about. Thanks for this informative post. Read more:

    November 30, 2011 at 6:04 am |
  4. Rebecca

    I'm more offended that we're considering a tomato a vegetable and not what it truly is, a fruit.

    November 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  5. interwebs

    Limiting access to high calorie, poorly balanced foods at school is a good idea and should be done, but it's not going to solve the problem. From a practical standpoint, lunch at school is only at the very most 1/3 of a student's food intake. What about the food at home? The best way to address this problem, as with any problem in the universe, is to search for the root cause and target it directly. I cannot be 100% certain, but I think children develop poor habits because of observing parents or having lack of good instruction by parents. The family is the single most influential force in a child's development. This is where the long term solutions should begin.

    November 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  6. interwebs

    A pizza is a prepared dish. It is not a vegetable, nor is it grain or meat or dairy, because those are its ingredients. A car is not a wheel, a house is not a 2 by 4, a computer is not a hard drive.

    November 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  7. Jonah E

    This is obsurd. There may be issues that require attention a little more than this, but that is how we let these things slip through the cracks. This needs to be addressed by the people, and the people need to pay attention. Pizza is not a vegetable, and who ever thinks so is clearly having a rough time excepting the truth and real presence of nutrution. Not everyone was raised on Pop tarts and Totino's pizza. Let's not go down in history like this. The only way to be better, is to make better choices. We can do this. I believe.
    p.s Why was this article sooo hard to find? Hmmmm.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  8. Tanya

    Pretty embarrassing that congress would consider this. Let's just hope it doesn't get past the President. Let's feed real food to our children at school. Our school is using Fresh Approach scratch cooking this year and the quality has improved so much from the frozen, processed food that was served in years past. The kids get to choose their fresh fruit and vegetables that they want as a side. They are actually eating them!

    November 22, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Pizza, fwiw, is "real food". Classifying it as a vegetable is a direct result of trying to impose government classifications onto everything while forcing multiple political agendas into areas where they have no business.

      November 30, 2011 at 6:32 am |
  9. MicheleG™

    With all the REAL, pressing issues to attend to, I find this so ludicrously out of touch as to be funny if it were not so symptomatic of what's gone awry in the legislative branch...

    really? truly? Do they mean to tell me (however obliquely) that there is nothing more important to work on than something as superficial as this????

    November 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Jerv™@MicG

      Yup, sadly so. And the "Super Committee" can't get it's act together for serious budget cuts and revenue increases to tackle the debt. I see another down grade in the cards, how about you?

      November 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
      • MicheleG™

        Yup. I grew up being taught that "to compromise" did NOT mean a diminishment, but rather a civilized way to accommodate differing agendas without a "loss" to either side, a lesson that I guess the world has not learned. We can't all be selfish children and survive a brutal world. That very selfishness quite precisely MAKES the world a brutal, cruel place.

        November 18, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
      • MicheleG™

        Compromise requires concessions. Concessions do not equate to a "sell out," which is the current fad definition.

        Dictionary definitions:
        consensus is “general agreement or concord; harmony”,
        compromise is “a settlement of differences by mutual concessions”.

        November 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Vicky D,

      Right on..... what children eat or do not should be up to the PARENTS!!! To much goverment control as it is.I agree.... to many other agenda's that should warrant their time. For the People? Create jobs, feed the hungry right here in our hometowns, bring our troops homes, homelessness. Medical research !!! Let parents be parents...have the control of their children.Teachers Teach. All the money toward things that shouldn't be their concern in the first place could help our world be a better place!! Pizza... vegetable or not? PLEEEZE....they have more time than I do.

      December 1, 2011 at 9:27 am |
      • Bill

        Should the parents have a choice in the situation where the government is paying for some or all of the meals for the child while at school? Of the ruffly 81.5milion students educated in the public school system around 31 million were provided free or reduced lunches around 38% of the students.

        This has a lot more to do with just choice in school it always has a bearing on the tax money that is spend on programs like this. Sure if you want to spent your own money buying trash and calling it a vegetable I'm all for it. If my tax money is going to be used to help low incoming individuals we mine as well use it as an opportunity to push individuals in a better direction where possible (such as young minds).

        March 28, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
  10. Mark L

    The weight problem with todays kids isnt the food, its the lack of exercise. They now sit inside and surf the web and play video games every free minute they have. Parents need to restrict that to a few hours a week, then they will have no choice but to go outside and play.

    November 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Jeff

      Shut up Mark L. Diet and exercise are both really important. I don't mean to be rude, kids should not play as many video games as they do now. You are very correct in saying this. but it is not okay to completely absolve public schools of blame as you have. It is both the parent AND school's faul that children are so obese. Schools and parents should see this health threat and try to do something about it.

      November 19, 2011 at 3:33 am |
  11. DoResearch

    This article was CLEARLY written by the Big Food Industry. The bill actually required more fruits and veggies, and the amount of tomoato paste required was a QUARTER CUP (4 tablespoons, not two) per slice. If made correctly pizza can actually be healthful when not slogged odwn with greasy cheese. This bill was OPPPOSED BY THE FOOD INDUSTRY becuase it HURT THEM. The USDA still considers french fries to be a vegetable. It would have increased the availablitily of more heathful lunches. It isn't the government that tries to tell America how to eat, it is the Food Industry (about 6 companies own ALL the food in the grocery store) telling you to eat crap and using its money to sway Congress to give different messages than true nutritionists would give.

    November 18, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  12. mbmpdx

    Gotta make sure all that money given out to raise corn, wheat, etc beyond our needs reaps something in return. How sad that we don't think enough of our children - especially in the school years - to try and teach them to eat better than we've been brainwashed into eating. How do we get back to Of The People, For The People instead of Of The Corporation, For The Corporation? Somehow making sure to vote isn't cutting it. Corps just pour more $$$ into the pockets of the elected ones (who are usually filthy rich in the first place). Capitalism was once an admirable concept but since greed has allowed it to be warped so badly, we need to effectively "reel it in" a bit. Also, how do you get a nation that takes absolutely every new event as if they are on Prozac to get off their butts and become active in change? Gee if I didn't know better, I'd suspect we're being manipulated to the advantage of our trash political parties. Maybe I need to have my water tested for Prozac!!! (LOL) At least growing most of my fruit and veges (yes, the real thing!) with seeds not redesigned by Monsanto gives me some assurance I'm not being poisoned when I try to eat healthy.

    November 18, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  13. mbmpdx

    Amen, Connie in NC!

    Ah, to live in a country where people could make the big decisions instead of Corporations ...

    November 18, 2011 at 1:06 am |
  14. Connie in NC

    An open letter to Congress.
    We the American public did not elect you to your seat to waste time and to look stupid. We did not elect you to ignore the needs of our children and cater to big business and special interest groups. Please remove your heads from your buttocks and remember why you are sitting in that seat.
    A concerned American Mother.

    November 18, 2011 at 12:28 am |
  15. Susan

    NEWSFLASH!! Ever since they started making our lunches "healthier", kids have been getting fatter and sicker! The food may be considered healthy, but with all the preservatives and additives, as well as genetic alteration done to that food, it's nothing but crap, crap, and more crap for your system! I lost around 10 pounds when I weaned myself off the school lunch. Now, I'm 10 pounds away from being underweight. So still in the "I'm just fine, thank you very much!" category, but since I also took my friend off school lunches and gave her food I brought in, she lost over 50 pounds in two months! Maybe not exactly proof, but something to consider, perhaps, that kids who bring our lunches are generally less sickly, and generally loose more weight faster, as well as keep it off better than the kids who have to eat school lunches.

    November 17, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • CL

      If your friend lost over 50 lbs in 2 months, she should go see a professional about that. Her weight loss averages out to be almost a 1 pound a day– that is NOT healthy.

      I agree that school lunches, right now, are far from perfect. But I dont think they are feeding you sticks of butter

      November 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  16. Tamera

    Who in the world made pizza a vegetable? Good grief! What happened to good ole' common sense. Why not put regular fruits and vegetables on the menu? Why all the JUNK food? Goodness gracious. No wonder we have so many health issues in America.
    Be sure to train em' right public school system. That way all these good eating habits and food choices will stay with them the rest of their lives.

    November 17, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  17. Offsuit

    The government has no business dictating what proper food is, in schools, or anywhere else. The government has no business providing food of any kind to students on the taxpayer dime. What qualifies as a vegetable to this idiotic program is irrelevant. The entire program, not to mention public education in general, should be abolished.

    November 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Joker

      Really? No public education? Good luck with that one buddy.

      November 17, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Brett

      offsuit, You seem to be one of those narcissistic Teapublicans who is under the impression that living in a community should be completely tax free to you. Please, if you would prefer to be a selfish old miser, if you hate paying taxes for the benefit of the community, which is what the whole idea of a government is, then move to a country where there is no government or community of people you have to live with.

      November 17, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  18. sklmarmva

    This bill really received the sponsors needed to move it on to the flloor for a vote? Yet, HR 3032 which would improve medical care in the area of radiology, reduce medical costs, and create jobs cannot get enough co-sponsors to get out of subcommittee? What are these congressmen thinking when they can actually co-sponsor a bill that will improve the lives of their constituents and they do not? Go to: and let your representatives know they should be co-sponsoring a bill that will have a positive effect for us all.

    November 17, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  19. CarolAnne64

    Stop farming out school lunches to big companies and hire cooks! I grew up in a town that had a cafeteria, fully staffed by local residents (AKA Moms). But nowadays, we are looking for cheap and profitable. Oh..and CNN...a tomato is a fruit.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  20. Josh

    Ummm, tomatoes are a type of berry. So, if anything, it should be a serving of fruit.

    November 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  21. cheekyyo

    I laugh! Turn off the T.V. And pack the child (you made) a lunch. Single mom here, I spend 15 making my daughters lunch with her.

    November 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  22. peppertreefarms

    pizza=cheese which is basically corn and other things cows eat. so chalk one up for the dairy/corn industry. then ya got the crust which is wheat, so chalk one up for them...and the rest of the pizza is more or less incidental compared to that...but it is funny the audacity exhibited by these industries which run our government.

    November 17, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  23. crystal

    If the parents don't like it they can always pack lunches.

    November 17, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  24. josee

    still waiting on that comment about Herman Cain....

    November 17, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  25. Lars J

    This was pushed through by the pizza industry and our kid's welfare has nothing to do with it, any more than a corner drug dealer is concerned about the kids he sells drugs to. Shame on the conservatives who sell their souls to industry. History will show who they served. And what was served.

    November 17, 2011 at 4:17 am |
  26. Erin Evans

    This is another example of how corporations (including those that own potato and/or tomato farms) have bent the agenda of our government. Our kids are not as important as keeping the corporations that own congress happy. Get the Money Out of our Government.

    November 16, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
  27. AFWife

    I don't think pizza should be considered a vegetable under any circumstances. The occasional slice if pizza at school is not making our children obese, it's what they eat the other 2 meals per day. It's the fact that our culture has gotten too sedentary.

    I prepared school lunches for a time. We had pizza a couple of times a month. They used enriched flour and reduced fat cheeses. An assortment of fresh (apples, oranges, bananas) and canned (packed in juice) fruit and fresh veggies (carrot and celery sticks, cucumbers, and salad) were available daily. Sometimes we would get fruit like seedless grapes or kiwi, the kids went nuts for it! Plain and flavored reduced fat milk and calicum fortified juices were also available.

    November 16, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  28. Christy

    Disgusting and disturbing.

    November 16, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  29. jj

    Serve one slice of veggie pizza with a side salad.

    November 16, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • frontgate

      Oh yeah, I'm sure that would go over real big with kids. hahahaha

      November 16, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
      • hadley

        We had once-a-week pizza lunch, which included a side salad, and most kids got the salad too! The pizza was deliciously greasy :D

        November 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  30. coriolana

    I'm a firm believer in Roe v. Wade but I don't think it applies to the English language, botanical classification or common sense.

    November 16, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Mick

      I'm having a difficult time thinking of a Supreme court case that has LESS to do with this than Roe V. Wade...I don't understand the point you are trying to make.

      November 18, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  31. teamom

    Perhaps we are fighting this the wrong way.
    Three suggestions: first, petition every school to open the cafeteria during the yearly school open houses. The last open house that I attended started at 6:30 p.m. My store closes just around that time, so there's no time for dinner. I walked into the cafeteria to an array of cookies and coffee – NOT what I wanted to eat. I would love to see what the students are fed.
    Second: the way to get to the kids is by starting when they're young. AND, by making healthy eating cool. Not just telling them so, making it cool to actually do it. By the same token, make unhealthy eating uncool. Commercials showing happy students at the cafeteria tables who are eating healthy meals, while the unhealthy eaters are very sad. Picking at their cardboard pizza, say, and perhaps rolling that cheese into a ball and using it as an eraser. And cartoons! Ever see Fighting Foodons? I absolutely adored this show, and it can certainly be modified. Look it up on YouTube.
    Third: petition to limit the number (and quality) of food commercials at specific times. Afternoon TV, when kids are coming home from school, does not need to promote junk food. Prime time TV does not have to have so many food commercials. This should help the adults as well.

    November 16, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  32. Brent Ross

    This is tragic stupidity and bothers me. What ridiculous and misguided economic reasoning could ever conclude that frozen processed pizza counts as a vegetable in a growing child's nutritional diet?

    November 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • frontgate

      republican misguided reasoning, that's what.

      November 16, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
      • pjb

        Seriously? This is a partisan issue? Give me a break...

        November 16, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Lars J

      This was pushed through by the pizza industry. Our kid's welfare has nothing to do with it, any more than a corner drug dealer is concerned about the kids he sells drugs to. Shame on the Republicans. History will show who they served. And what was served.

      November 17, 2011 at 4:16 am |
  33. jillmarie

    I feel that a minimum of 2 tbsp of tomato paste should be put on the school lunch pizza- good guidline. But don't count pizza as a vegetable serving- serve with veggies on the side.

    November 16, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  34. Dave

    By that logic, a slice of hawaiin pizza could be considered a serving of both fruit and vegetable. so what could be healthier than a greasy piece of hawaiin pizza? heck, eat a whole pizza every day and there's your recommended daily intake of fruits n veggies. no need to reach for that apple. or that salad. that would be silly. Oh, and don't forget to include some deep fried icecream (dairy) and deep fried butter (just becuase we can)

    nobody, I repeat, NOBODY on the face of this planet should be wondering why Americans are getting so darn fat.

    November 16, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  35. Kate

    While school lunch programs have been around for almost 100 years, it was President Truman who first provided the federal funding. Why? Because there were so many young recruits rejected for military service during WWII because of health problems rooted in poor diet. He was quoted as saying that good nutrition for kids is a matter of national security. Today over 1/3 of our kids are unhealthy due to being overweight or obese, triple the number from the 1970s. Let's hope we don't have to start drafting them–they will be considered unfit. And we'd better start banking some health care dollars for what happens when they become adults who are unhealthy.

    November 16, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  36. Michael Johnson

    This is absurd and asinine. The congress people talk about our childrens' future but put this into a bill, under pressure from frozen pizza manufacturers and the media basically ignores it!!! Why should the national debt matter when the children will all be dead from heart attacks by the time they are thirty. Shame on you CNN for not really covering this any better than a ticker mention and an on-line article you have to search for.

    November 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  37. AleeD This can't pass.

    November 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Jerv@AleeD

      test test test test

      November 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
      • AleeD@Jerv

        Yup! It's really me. :D

        November 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
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