Keep Westword Free

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."

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

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.

To read the full text of the SLICE act, click here.

More from our Politics archive: "Jared Polis and Diana DeGette try to tighten regulations on fracking -- again."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.