Each past president received a framed copy of WIC educational material that was hand-delivered to Members of Congress.
The battle was fought long and hard with victory within arms-length throughout that seven-year course, but at the end of the day it remained an uphill battle until the bitter end.
Honored NPC Past Presidents from left to right: Randy Hardy, 2014, Randy Mullen, 2013, Don Sklarczyk, 2007, Ed Schneider, 2009, Roger Mix, 2010, Justin Dagen, 2011, and Steve Crane, 2012.
WIC, a program designed to increase the intake of key nutrients for a population with special nutritional needs, expanded in 2009 to allow participants to use WIC vouchers to purchase all fresh fruits and vegetables, with the singular exception of fresh white potatoes.
For the past several years, NPC has worked to include fresh white potatoes for purchase in the WIC program on the basis of nutritional science. On December 16, 2014, the tireless efforts of NPC grower leaders and the entire potato industry paid off when President Obama signed the 2015 Appropriations Act into law with directions from Congress to include potatoes in the WIC program.
Photo of potatoes displaying WIC sign was taken at a local grocery store in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.
Members of Congress took a bi-partisan look and acknowledged the importance of WIC mothers having the ability to use vouchers and buy an affordable bag of potatoes that are nutritious and an important source of potassium and fiber, which are identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as “nutrients of concern”.
The potato community is appreciative of the leadership shown by Congress to pass this bill and return common sense to the WIC program by recognizing the nutritional value of fresh white potatoes.
The framed graphic held by the past presidents below depicts two identical sacks of potatoes. One of which is WIC approved for purchase of fresh potatoes in a farmers market with a WIC voucher and the other being ineligible for purchase in grocery stores using a WIC voucher. The pair of visuals created confusion and prompted the question amongst its viewers, “What’s the difference?”
“As a potato industry we knew we were doing the right thing from a scientific, nutritional, and economic standpoint. We knew what we were doing was best for the women and children of the U.S. and that's what kept us going through those challenging times,” said NPC 2011 Past President, Justin Dagen.