The nation's low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants and young children will soon have better access to fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the changes being made to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) are based on the latest nutrition science. This marks the completion of the first comprehensive revisions to the WIC food packages since 1980.
"The updates to the WIC food package make pivotal improvements to the program and better meet the diverse nutritional needs of mothers and their young children," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The foods provided by the WIC program -- along with education that focuses on the critical role of breastfeeding and proper nutrition -- help to ensure that every American child has the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong."
Multitude of changes
Along with a more than 30% increase in the dollar amount for children's fruits and vegetables purchases, the changes also:
- expand whole grain options available to participants,
- provide yogurt as a partial milk substitute for children and women,
- allow parents of older infants to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables instead of jarred infant food if they choose, and;
- give states and local WIC agencies more flexibility to meet the nutritional and cultural needs of WIC participants.
The revisions reflect public comments submitted in response to the first major changes in more than 30 years that were published as interim requirements in December 2007, which updated regulations governing WIC foods to align them more closely with updated nutrition science, recommendations of the National Academies' Institute of Medicine and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Federal government's benchmark for healthy eating and nutrition.
WIC provides low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age five with nutritious, supplemental foods.
The program also provides nutrition and breastfeeding education and referrals to health and social services. Over 8.5 million participants receive WIC benefits each month.