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School cafeteria the latest battleground in the fight against childhood obesity

The school cafeteria is the latest battleground in the fight against childhood obesity. When Wisconsin House members voted last week to keep the federal government running through mid-December, they also scrapped healthier requirements for school lunches. But state school officials say they've been working with schools on healither menus. And U-S-D-A Secretary Tom Vilsack says his agency will be back next year with new proposals to require more fruits, vegetables, and grains -- and less salt-and-fat. One of the stumbling blocks in the recent measure would have banned potatoes to one cup a week. Susan Peterman of the Middleton-Cross Plains school district said potatoes -- including French fries -- can be good for kids, depending on how they're made. And she's not the only one who feels that way. Peterman said almost a-third of the 134-thousand public comments the U-S-D-A received on the school lunch guidelines came from Wisconsin. And they took issue with the limits on potatoes, a big crop in parts of the Badger State. But Cindy Loechler of the state Department of Public Instruction said the rejection of the mandate was a step backward in the effort serve healthy meals. And she says the D-P-I has been working with schools to cut down on sodium levels. One other sticking point was a proposed reduction in the amount of tomato paste to be considered a vegetable on pizza. It's now two table-spoons. The new measure would have required half-cut of tomato paste.