Potatoes Benefit School Meals as a Nutrient-Dense Vegetable
Schools participating in the School Breakfast Program (SBP) may continue to credit any vegetable offered, including potatoes and other starchy vegetables, in place of fruit without including vegetables from other subgroups in the weekly menus, through June 30, 2021 (1). In other words, you can offer 1 cup of fruit or vegetable at breakfast each day and be considered compliant (1). This is great news! Let us now recap what potatoes can do for you and your students.
School foodservice professionals tell us potatoes help provide students with the nutrients and energy they need to do their best during the school day. And that’s no surprise. Potatoes have more than 10 essential nutrients (2). A medium (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato is an excellent source of vitamin C providing 30% of the daily value and has 26 grams of carbohydrate per serving, which is the primary fuel our brains need to function.
At a time when most students are not eating the recommended amount of vegetables per day, potatoes provide nutrients of public health concern in diets for this group as an affordable vegetable (3, 4, 5) For example, a medium skin-on potato provides 620 milligrams of potassium and has 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving.
Research has shown that potatoes may help keep students full longer. Short-term, single meal randomized crossover studies done in small groups of children and adolescents aged 9-14, a group linked with poor-quality eating patterns and nutrient inadequacies, (6) also suggest students might be more satiated by meals with potatoes versus meals without potatoes when appetite is self-reported (7, 8). While these results are promising, please note that these findings cannot be applied to different populations and prompt the need for further research.
Foodservice and health professionals often share that potatoes serve as a gateway to students eating other vegetables. Results from an observational study of students aged 4-18 suggested that when white potatoes were consumed as part of a meal, students frequently included another vegetable, thereby increasing total vegetable servings at the meal (9). Observational studies like this provide useful information for identifying possible associations to be tested by intervention/clinical trial studies.
Most kids like potatoes, which means they get eaten when served and not thrown away. In fact, in a plate waste study at three elementary schools (kindergarten through fifth grade) participating in the USDA’s school meal program in central Texas, overall food waste at school meals was reduced when potatoes were served (10).
School foodservice professionals rely on potatoes being an economical source of nutrition and appreciate how versatile potatoes are for breakfast and lunch and in many different dishes. Potatoes help these hard-working professionals overcome the many operational challenges they face in providing healthy, great-tasting and cost-effective meals to their students.”
Need speaking points for your district to support your usage of potatoes? Let us know. We have digestible facts ready with sourcing. Email [email protected]
- USDA. Memo code: SP 06- 2020. School Breakfast Program: Continuation of the Substitution of Vegetables for Fruit Flexibility https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/resource-files/SP06-2020os.pdf
- FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170028/nutrients. Updated March 2019. Accessed January 21, 2020.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.
- Drewnowski, A. New metrics of affordable nutrition: Which vegetables provide most nutrients for least cost?. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2013;113(9):1182-1187.
- Nicklas TA, Liu Y, Islam N, O’Neil CE. Removing potatoes from children’s diets may compromise potassium intake. Advances in Nutrition. 2016;7(1):247S-253S.
- Banfield EC, Liu Y, Davis JS, Chang S, Frazier-Wood AC. Poor adherence to US dietary guidelines for children and adolescents in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey population. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016;116(1):21–27.
- Akilen R, Deljoomanesh N, Hunschede S, Smith CE, Arshad MU, Kubant R, Anderson GH. The effects of potatoes and other carbohydrate side dishes consumed with meat on food intake, glycemia and satiety response in children. Nutr & Diabetes. 2016;6(2):e195.
- Lee JJ, Brett NR, Chang JT, de Zepetnek JOT, Bellissimo N. Effects of white potatoes consumed with eggs on satiety, food intake, and glycemic response in children and adolescents [published online ahead of print July 10, 2019]. J Am Coll Nutr. doi:10.1080/07315724.2019.1620659.
- Drewnowski A, Rehm CD, Beals KB. White potatoes non-fried do not displace other vegetables in meals consumed by American children and adolescents aged 4-18 yr of age. The FASEB Journal. 2011;25(suppl):lb239.
- Ishdorj A, Capps O Jr, Storey M, Murano PS. Investigating the relationship between food pairings and plate from elementary school lunches. Food Nutr Sci. 2015;6:1029-1044.