'Bachelorette' takes on Sen. Collins over nutrition guidelines for school lunches

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is taking heat from another popular Mainer over her stance against new nutrition standards for school lunches — ABC's most recent "Bachelorette," Ashley Hebert.

"Schoolchildren need healthy lunches — not fries every day," Hebert, who studied dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania, tweeted this week. "Protect USDA's school nutrition standards."

Hebert's tweet doesn't directly criticize or even mention Collins, but the senator has taken the lead in the Senate in trying to force regulators to revisit the standards. She said last week that the standards should be based on how food is prepared, rather than the ingredients used.

"The fact is that french fries are a problem, but potatoes are not," Collins said during the Senate Appropriations Committee's markup of its agricultural spending bill. She said she's partnering with Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and other lawmakers of both parties to seek legislation changing the nutrition standards.

Hebert's tweet links to a petition from the Center for Science in the Public Interest urging Congress to leave in place new nutrition standards from the Department of Agriculture that are scheduled to kick in next year. The standards would limit potatoes and other starchy vegetables to two servings per week in an effort to get schoolchildren to try less popular vegetables that offer other needed nutrients.

"The french fry industry and other food interests are working to get Congress to stop USDA from finalizing these sensible school nutrition standards," the petition reads.

"The House of Representatives has already included a rider in its Agriculture spending bill urging USDA to start over from scratch and propose a new set of school meal standards — even though tens of thousands of parents and organizations wrote in to support these important improvements.

"If industry is successful in convincing the Senate to do the same, the goal of seeing healthy school lunches in cafeterias across the country will be in serious jeopardy."

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