DeLauro urges USDA to reject potatoes for WIC - The Packer

DeLauro urges USDA to reject potatoes for WIC

01/27/2014 04:04:00 PM
Tom Karst

Rep. Rosa DeLauro has urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to reject the inclusion of potatoes in Women, Infants and Children food packages.

The move to include potatoes — excluded by regulation in the WIC fruit and vegetable voucher program since it began in 2009 — was part of the fiscal year 2014 spending bill recently passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama.

In the bill, lawmakers asked the USDA to include potatoes in the program or provide an explanation to Congress why potatoes should still be excluded.

In a Jan. 27 letter to Vilsack, DeLauro, D-Conn., said there was a scientific reason why potatoes are excluded in the WIC Special Supplemental Nutrition Program.

“Fresh white potatoes are not currently included in supplemental food packages because the research overwhelmingly shows that white potatoes are not lacking in the diets of low-income women and children,” DeLauro said in the letter.

“Further, while white potatoes can make an important nutritional contribution in the diet, the Institute of Medicine, when providing recommendations to USDA in the development of these food packages, conducted a thorough review of available evidence and found white potatoes to be consumed in sufficient quantity by the eligible WIC population, consistent with dietary recommendations. The Institute of Medicine further found other fruit and vegetable consumption to be lacking in the diets of WIC participants.”

DeLauro said the move by Congress to add potatoes back into program would be the first time Congress acted to specify the content of WIC food packages.

“Changing the allowable foods based on politics would set a dangerous precedent and undermine the integrity of the science-based process that has kept the WIC program strong for decades,” she said in the letter.

The USDA has not indicated if the agency will accept direction from Congress and include potatoes in the WIC food packages.

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Charleston SC  |  January, 28, 2014 at 09:02 AM

While potatoes should not neccessarily be added to the program, the inclusion of REAL fruits and vegetables should be addressed. Apple, orange or grape juice which is typcially what is purchased or peanut butter which are typically what are purchased, (and I know as I was on WIC when my children were young and know first hand.) are NOT a FRESH fruit or vegetable. (milk, cereal and eggs are other items that are also most purchased.) Tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, fresh fruit of any kind, these ARE NOT included to be purchased on WIC, bu tyou can get jelly. Therefore the notion of WIC being a scientific based program providing FRESH items not available to low-income households is a fallicy that needs to be outed and addressed by the growers if they wish for the program to embrace their products effectively.

Charleston SC  |  January, 28, 2014 at 09:11 AM

And I stand corrected on the fresh fruits and vegetables being able to be bought, what I meant was if you as a mother of lower income have to choose between $50 in fresh fruits and vegetables (you can get about nine items) or peanut butter, eggs, cheese, milk and beans.....what do you think you are going to choose? A bag of apples, oranges or fresh broccoli and green beans would cost you about $15 and peanut butter, eggs, beans and rice would be $10 instead and feed much more mouths and for longer than the fresh fruits/vegetables. Think like a lower income person who has mouths to feed ALL month and not just for a few days and you will see that they STILL can't afford most fresh fruits and vegetables. which seems insane as according to the hype they can process the fresh fruits with record low wages so why is it so expensive given the subsidies and all??? We as Americans need to reevaluate the cost of goods sold and why/where they come from and how much they cost to level the playing field across all income levels.

Chris Koger    
Lenexa, Kan.  |  January, 28, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Tina, Fruits and vegetables don't compete with the other items you mentioned; it's not an either-or situation. Participating mothers get a $10 voucher each month and each child receives a $6 voucher, so that's $16 a month to be used exclusively for fresh produce. Chris Koger News Editor, The Packer

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