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USDA leaves white potatoes off WIC list

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin potato growers have failed again to get a major food program for the poor to include white potatoes in a list of eligible items.

The USDA recently expanded the types of produce and whole grains which can be purchased in the federal Women, Infants, and Children program. However, white potatoes were again left off the list.

They were first removed six years ago, when the government said potatoes were widely eaten outside the "WIC" program in the form of French fries. WIC vouchers can be used to buy white potatoes at farmers' markets, but not at the grocery store.

Duane Maatz, who heads the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, says it makes no scientific sense that his product is excluded. According to Maatz, it sends the wrong message that fresh potatoes are a product that families shouldn't buy.

Jerry Wright of the United Potato Growers of America pointed to a recent study indicating that WIC clients are deficient in major minerals and vitamins that potatoes provide.

The USDA plans a comprehensive review of the approved WIC items later this year. The potato industry says it will keep up its fight to get them included again.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)