Press Releases

Simpson Praises Institute of Medicine’s Report on White Potatoes

Report: white potatoes contribute to useful quantities of potassium and fiber to Americans’ diets

Washington, February 5, 2015

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson commends the recent report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggesting that fresh, white potatoes should not be excluded from the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program.  Simpson has been raising this concern with the USDA for years and successfully included fresh, white potatoes in the WIC program in the fiscal year 2015 appropriations bill that was signed into law.  

“Fresh potatoes have been excluded from the WIC program despite their widely known nutritional value,” said Simpson. “Congress has directed the USDA to allow WIC participants to make wholesome food choices for their young families by including fresh, white potatoes in the program, yet the Administration has failed to follow through. I hope the USDA will listen to the IOM report they requested and once and for all permanently end this ridiculous exclusion.”

Simpson’s language in the FY2015 cromnibus only ended the exclusion for one year.

The IOM committee evaluated the 2009 regulation that excluded white potatoes from purchase with the WIC cash value voucher (CVV) and considers whether white potatoes should henceforth be allowed as a WIC-eligible vegetable in the CVV. Summary of the report is online, but some key findings are listed below:

  • Overall, the nutrient profile of white potatoes is similar to that of other starchy vegetables that are currently permitted for purchase with the CVV. Because white potatoes are so widely consumed, they contribute useful quantities of potassium and fiber to Americans’ diets.

  • The nutrient profile of white potatoes does not support their exclusion from the CVV because their nutrient content is similar to that of other starchy vegetables included in the CVV. Increased consumption of white potatoes could improve potassium intake for both women and children.

  • WIC participants’ intake of all fruit and vegetable subgroups could be improved. Current consumption of starchy vegetables does not meet 2010 DGA recommendations for this food group.

  • Overall diet quality for both WIC participants and WIC-eligible non-participants could be improved.

Simpson has advocated for the inclusion of fresh, white potatoes for years by writing letters to Secretary Vilsack, offering amendments and giving speeches to his fellow Congressman on the issue. To view Congressman Simpson defending fresh potatoes in the House Appropriations Committee, visit his YouTube page.