What do you 'really' think about school lunches?

If you turned on the T.V. last month you were sure to find late night comedians poking fun at Congress declaring that tomato paste on pizza qualified as a vegetable.

By Clay Masters.

“Really, Congress? Now cafeteria pizza qualifies as a vegetable?” asked Saturday Night Live lead writer Seth Meyers. “Cafeteria pizza barely qualifies as a pizza. It has the same nutritional value as the tray it’s served on.”

There was so much media attention given to the pizza-vegetable issue and other things congress shot down (including decreasing sodium and starchy vegetables) that nobody focused on the fact that new school lunch guidelines are still set to come out for the 2012-13 school year.

“(We wouldn’t say) 'Gee, those are good ideas,' by any stretch of the imagination,” Kevin Conannon, under secretary of Food and Nutrition, told me last week. “But even with those (changes) we expect that it will be a considerable improvement in most schools around the country.”

USDA isn’t tipping their hand on what those new rules are just yet. The new guidelines are set to come out around January 1.

That’s where you come in.

Harvest Public Media will send out questions regarding the new guidelines to the people in our Harvest Network, which you can sign up for here. We’ll give you a couple of weeks to respond and feature some of your responses in an upcomingField Notes podcast.

The new meal pattern proposed last year received over 135,000 comments, which was the largest number of comments USDA received on any federal rule, according to Nebraska Director of Nutrition Services Bev Benes.

While the new rules might only be a shadow of their intended selves, we’re sure you’ll have a few opinions.

Clay Masters reports for Harvest Public Media, an agriculture-reporting project involving six NPR member stations in the Midwest. For more stories about farm and food, check out harvestpublicmedia.org.