If the Moses Lake-based Washington State Potato Commission has its way, a handful of Washington schools will in the future offer students hot vegetable bars, including baked potatoes.

United Fresh official supports hot vegetable bar ideaIt is an approach that has merit in the opinion of Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health at United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., a founding partner in the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign.

The national association has not taken an official position on hot vegetable bars, but “I think it’s a great idea,” DiSogra said.

“I think it could certainly fit in schools that also have salad bars,” she said.

The potato commission has submitted an application to the Washington State Department of Agriculture for a U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops Block Grant for putting hot vegetable bars in 10 Washington school cafeterias. Grower-shippers and other groups also have pledged more than $100,000 to the pilot program.

“Many groups are engaged in trying to improve school meals,” DiSogra said. “They are very focused on how things are prepared and improving preparation methods so that not just potatoes, but other items too, are prepared in a nutrient dense way.”

United Fresh has been engaged in the proposed rule to improve the healthfulness of school meals, she said.

“Baking a potato is a nutrient-dense preparation method,” DiSogra said.