A major shift for WIC food program in the works


New options for dairy and canned foods

After more than a decade, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making serious changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

In addition to more than $7 billion in new funding, the headlining move the USDA is making is increasing cash allowances for fruits and vegetables, as well as expanding what types of produce will be available. As a result of the changes, whole grains and dairy alternatives such as plant-based yogurt and cheese will also be more accessible.

With these improvements to the WIC food packages, fruit and vegetable consumption is increased by increasing the amount provided and the varieties available for purchase. Participants in WIC are now receiving up to four times more fruit and vegetables, thanks to an increase in Food and Nutrition Service benefits.

“WIC has a half-century track record of caring for young families. USDA and the Biden-Harris Administration are committed to ensuring that moms, babies and young children continue to thrive through WIC,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“These participant-centered changes will strengthen WIC by ensuring the foods participants receive reflect the latest nutrition science to support healthy eating and the brightest futures.”

Other enhancements

To reflect dietary guidelines, whole grain options have also been expanded to include foods like quinoa, blue cornmeal, and teff to accommodate individual or cultural preferences.

There are more options when it comes to dairy, too. Now, WIC users can choose more sizes and non-dairy items like plant-based yogurt. Lactose-free milk is being made available for the first time, too.

The agency felt that fish was being under-consumed by its users so it’s now including canned fish in more food packages. Canned beans will now be offered for the first time, as well.

The last nuance is one that new moms will like. The program will now offer more flexibility in just how much infant formula is provided to partially breastfed infants to support moms’ individual breastfeeding goals.

There are likely to be more changes on top of these. State agencies are being handed the power to decide on other types of fruits and veggies other than frozen, fresh, or canned.

In order for the new food packages to meet participant needs, WIC state agencies will have two years to plan and implement the changes.

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