Updated: 6:30 p.m. | Chalk up another victory for the fresh, white potato.
A report released Tuesday recommends that the Department of Agriculture allow fresh, white potatoes to be eligible for purchase under the Women, Infants and Children food assistance program. The white potato had been the only vegetable or fruit excluded from the WIC roster.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, hailed the news as a “major victory.” She has pressed for years to have the potato included on the menu and argued that USDA has been using antiquated rules based on 20-year-old consumption data.
“As I have said all along, USDA’s decision ought to be driven by nutritional facts and the latest, accurate food science. In that kind of review, the fresh, white potato wins, hands down,” Collins said. “The potato has more potassium than bananas, a food commonly associated with this nutrient, which is important for pregnant women and new mothers.” Collins scored a victory late last year when, as a veteran member of the Appropriations Committee, she managed to include pro-potato language in the "cromnibus" spending bill.
That provision allowed families using the WIC program to purchase wholesome spuds.
The provision also required the USDA to commence the next scheduled regular review of the WIC food package, including an evaluation of the nutrient value of all vegetables, to determine the long-term inclusion or exclusion of any fresh fruit or vegetable.
“Our top priority is the health of new moms and young children. That's why we've always said decisions affecting the WIC program should be based on sound science and pediatricians' recommendations," said a USDA spokesperson.
The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.