Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says there is nothing wrong with eating potatoes in moderation, even though the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program – one of the largest federal food assistance programs – is now finalizing an interim rule that bars participants from buying potatoes with their federal dollars.
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture also is limiting potatoes in the federal School Lunch Program.
When CNSNews.com posed the question — “Is there anything wrong with eating potatoes in moderation?” — Thursday to Vilsack at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., he responded, “No,” but then quipped to the room full of reporters, “Potatoes are a source of ethanol, I’m sure.” Vilsack had been speaking on the issue of biofuels production.
“The quick answer to this is that studies have shown that WIC participants are already purchasing potatoes in sufficient quantities. There’s no need to encourage purchasing of potatoes because they’re already purchasing sufficient quantities. That’s why it’s not in the supply,” Vilsack added.
The WIC program, which is operated by Vilsack’s USDA in conjunction with state agencies, has drawn fire for including “fresh fruits and vegetables” but not white potatoes in food packages given to low-income mothers – and it won’t allow federal vouchers to be spent on potatoes.