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Legislators insist potato be part of WIC

WASHINGTON — The ubiquitous white potato has scored another victory on Capitol Hill.

House and Senate panels this week endorsed the inclusion of fresh white potatoes in the federal Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program. The Agriculture Department doesn’t allow them in the program for low-income pregnant and nursing mothers because they say people already eat enough of them.

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The potato industry has aggressively lobbied for inclusion in WIC, saying it’s not as much about sales as the perception that potatoes are not as nutritious as other vegetables.

The advocates argue that it provides potassium, dietary fiber, and folate, a water-soluble B vitamin that can be helpful for pregnant women. They say it is also economical.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday adopted an amendment by Senator Susan M. Collins, Republican of Maine, to an agriculture spending bill that would include white potatoes in WIC. That followed House subcommittee approval of its version of the bill, also allowing potatoes into the program.

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