Potatoes are nutrition powerhouses, offering both affordability and flexibility as America’s favorite vegetable. NPC helps ensure that potatoes are recognized by policymakers for their health benefits to families and children. NPC works with government officials to ensure that federal dietary recommendations for feeding and nutrition programs and that the Dietary Guidelines acknowledge the unique contributions of potatoes.
Government Purchases for Feeding Programs
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NPC and state organizations are working with Congress and the administration to move oversupplies of potatoes and potato products to food banks, charitable organizations and other needy recipients. If properly executed, this action will serve two purposes in providing nutritious products to food insecure communities and allowing family farms to weather the global crisis with more confidence. This government-mandated shutdown places a responsibility on USDA and the administration overall to create demand for the potato industry by purchasing these oversupplied products, thereby creating options for the current crop.
School Breakfast Access for White Potatoes
In January 2020, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) released a proposed rule that would eliminate the current restrictions against potatoes in the school breakfast program. By taking this action, FNS would codify current practice resulting from the appropriations language that was successfully included in the last two Agriculture Appropriations Bills. NPC strongly encourages USDA to finalize this commonsense rule and allow local food service professionals to serve potatoes that meet the overall meal standards established in the program.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Every five years USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services jointly issue the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), updating the Federal Government’s nutrition policy for healthy Americans. These guidelines set the foundation for nutrition policies for the federal government and inform numerous public statements. Currently, the 2020 process is underway. Over the past year, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), the panel of experts tasked to review the most recent research, has held three public meetings, one of which included an opportunity for oral comments from the public. NPC has provided testimony to the DGAC at every opportunity that highlights the importance of potatoes in a healthy diet.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
The Farm Bill, which deals with agriculture policy issues as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), was renewed most recently in December 2018. NPC continues to participate in the SNAP coalition and promote to members of Congress and the administration the benefits of all potato products being a part of SNAP. At the same time, we are monitoring federal rulemaking that may seek to amend the definition of “healthy” and inform consumers about products meeting that definition.