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From 26 October 2003 Issue

USDA Buying More Vegetables for
School Lunches
By Greg Lawson - ParkStRanger@aol.com

On October the 19th, the Associated Press reported that the United States Department of Agriculture is buying record amounts of fruits and vegetables for the national school lunch program. The USDA bought close to a billion pounds of fruits and vegetables for schools in the fiscal year which ended on September 30. That's 22 percent more than in 2002 and 38 percent more than in 1999.

Unfortunately, 90 percent of those veggies were canned or frozen and only 10 percent was fresh produce. Eric Bost, USDA Undersecretary for Nutrition was quoted as saying, "There has been a concerted effort on our part to increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables. (ten percent of the total? Come on USDA, try harder.)" He continued, "It helps to address issues with the obesity that's affecting children in our country." Last year the government reported that 15 percent of the children in the US are overweight, that's twice as many as in the 1970s.

Each year the USDA buys an average of 1/2 billion pounds of meat, poultry and fish for the school lunch program. The fact that the USDA now buys twice as much fruit and vegetables as meat has livestock farmers worried.

Kara Flynn, a spokeswhiner for the National Pork Producers Council whined, "We would hope that in the future the USDA would purchase some additional meat products to sort of even things out." I'm sorry you're losing a piece of the action, Kara, but there seems to be some small effort to decrease the nation's obesity related disease problems caused mostly by the meat and dairy industry.

The Associated Press also reported that 6 million federal tax dollars was given for a study to determine if school children will pick fresh produce over french fries and candy bars. "Hey, kid, would you rather have this chocolate covered coconut and almond bar or this serving of beets?"

That's a six million dollar grant I would have liked to have secured to study whether anyone in our government understands kids or nutrition.

Go on to Happy Halloween For All Creatures Great and Small
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