Is Pizza Sauce a Vegetable? Congress says Yes.

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By Christen Drew
By Jared Roberts

HERRIN-- Schools react after Congress unveils its plan for healthy school lunches; one that keeps pizza and french fries on the menu.

The Obama administration proposed changes earlier this year to make school meals more healthy, but Congress seems to have a different plan. Monday night Congress released its final version of a bill that would change school lunch standards.

It has no limit on the amount potatoes served, no limit on sodium and no requirement to boost whole grains. Tomato sauce would continue to counts as a vegetable when tallying the nutritional content of school lunches. It's one example of something the USDA wanted to prevent.

However, conservatives in Congress say the federal government shouldn't be telling children what to eat. They say requirements proposed by the President went too far, costing budget strapped schools too much. Local schools are caught in the middle.

Five hundred students work their way through the lunch line at Herrin Middle school five days a week. For them, it's a time to socialize and grab a bite to eat; but behind the scenes, cafeteria manager Jackie Giles has carefully calculated every calorie on their tray.

"At one time we served 2% milk, in the future I think they would like for us to try to go to skim milk," she says.

While she works to serve healthy choices, she says even vegetables contain carbs and starches.

"Potatoes for one, your corn, peas, your carrots," she says.

She's constantly battling between nutritional guidelines and what the kids will actually eat. For her, Tuesday’s response to the healthy meal was a disappointment.

"We had baked chips, and a lot of those bags were not opened and I feel like a lot of those kids probably saw baked and thought it's not going to taste good," says Giles.

We asked students what they thought.

"I ate the carrots and I ate the sandwich but I took the meat off because I really don't like the meat that they serve here. So I just ate the cheese so that's pretty much all I ate," says seventh grader Chelsea Smith.

"Most of the time they do serve fruit or vegetables so most of it's healthy," replies Cassidy Ray, also a seventh grader.

Giles says between guidelines and her budget, she has a lot pressure on her shoulders to fix a meal kids will eat; especially when many kids eat both breakfast and lunch at school.

"I want to provide a nutritional and healthy meal. I also want to try to provide a meal that I know the kids will eat."
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