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Senate panel OKs state cafeteria food proposal

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm •  Published: February 28, 2013

"We're trying to curb the number of people we see with cardiovascular disease and strokes," Frelund said. "We want to ease people into it. We don't want to just rip the Band-Aid off."

At the Capitol Cafe in the basement of the Iowa Capitol, head chef Vithoun Saysopha said the proposal seemed workable.

"These guidelines shouldn't affect our menu that much," said Saysopha, who works for Kansas City-based Treat America Food Services.

The Capitol Cafe offers six menu options each day, with at least one healthy option, but Saysopha said the numbers show a decided preference for greasier fare. Last week, the cafeteria sold 256 cheeseburgers and hamburgers, compared to 146 who opted for the healthier turkey burger and 45 who chowed down on a side salad instead of fries or onion rings.

The bill also requires that the Iowa Department of Administration only contract with food vendors whose menus follow the most current dietary guidelines from the American Heart Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Vendors purchasing from local food growers would be given preference.

"We would be first in the nation to be doing this kind of work statewide," Frelund said.

Don Avenson, a lobbyist from Oelwein, chose a fried pork tenderloin sandwich for lunch on Wednesday, but wasn't concerned by the healthier push.

"I wouldn't care if they changed the menu," Avenson said. "Cafeteria food can never be as good as the food you eat at home."