USDA offers scientific updates of foods provided by WIC

Proposed changes promote nutritional security and maternal and child health, increase flexibility for participants

Washington, November 17, 2022 – The USDA Food and Nutrition Service announces proposed changes to the foods prescribed to participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC. These science-based reviews incorporate recommendations from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.

“USDA is committed to advancing maternal and child health through WIC, helping mothers, babies and young children thrive,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These proposed changes will strengthen WIC – already an incredibly powerful program – by ensuring it provides foods that reflect the latest nutritional science to support healthy eating and a bright future.”

WIC food packs are specially designed to complement the foods and beverages participants are already consuming and fill in key nutritional gaps to support healthy growth and development. The Food and Nutrition Service, or FNS, is propose changes to align food packaging with the latest nutritional science and support equitable access to nutritious food during critical life stages.

Taken collectively, the changes will increase the current level of assistance while providing state WIC agencies more flexibility to tailor packages to personal and cultural dietary preferences and special dietary needs and increase variety and choice for WIC participants. , making the program more attractive to current and potential participants.

[Proposed Updates to the WIC Food Packages Infographic]

“For the more than 6 million mothers, babies and young children who participate in WIC – and the millions more eligible to participate – these proposed revisions have the potential to have positive impacts throughout life. about health and wellness,” Stacy said. Dean, assistant assistant secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services.

The proposed revisions support fruit and vegetable consumption by increasing the amount provided and the varieties available for purchase. Congress had previously implemented a significant but temporary increase in the benefit for WIC attendees to purchase fruits and vegetables. FNS proposes to make this increase permanent, offering participants up to four times the amount they would otherwise receive. FNS also offers revisions that give participants a wider variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from and adjust the amount of juice to reflect nutrition guidance, which emphasizes whole fruits and vegetables.

Other proposed changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Expand whole grain options to include foods like quinoa, blue cornmeal, and teff to reflect dietary advice and accommodate individual or cultural preferences.
  • Provide more non-dairy alternatives such as soy-based yogurts and cheeses – and require lactose-free milk to be offered.
  • Include canned fish in more food packaging, creating more equitable access to this under-consumed food.
  • Require that canned beans be offered in addition to dried beans.
  • Added greater flexibility in the amount of formula provided to partially breastfed infants to support individual breastfeeding goals.

These – and any proposed changes – are based on the NASEM report, Review of WIC Food Packages: Improving Balance and Choice, and the latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines. The revisions are also informed by FDA-EPA guidance on fish consumption and feedback from WIC participants, state and tribal partners, and other government agencies.

FNS encourages all interested parties to provide feedback on the proposed changes by visiting www.regulations.gov. The comment period will be open from November 21, 2022 to February 21, 2023.

[WIC: Building Healthy Foundations Infographic]

WIC is one of the most powerful, evidence-based public health programs available, with a long history of improving children’s health and developmental outcomes. Participants receive specialist nutrition, key resources – including nutrition education, breastfeeding support and immunization screening – and referrals to health and social services.

WIC is also uniquely positioned to reduce racial disparities in maternal and child health outcomes. WIC turnout rates are highest among WIC-eligible Hispanic and non-Hispanic Blacks, and previous WIC food parcel updates have been shown to help increase access (PDF, 248 KB) towards healthier foods for Hispanic and Latino WIC participants.

Given the proven benefits of the program, FNS is committed to modernizing WIC to maximize its impact throughout the eligibility period of participants. The ministry recently announced several major investments to modernize WIC, support innovation and help reach more mothers and young children. To learn more, visit the Modernization and innovation WIC Web page.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service works to end hunger and improve food and nutrition security through a suite of more than 15 nutritional assistance programs, such as school breakfast and lunch programs, WIC, and SNAP. Together, these programs serve one in four Americans over the course of a year, promoting consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable foods essential for optimal health and well-being. FNS also provides science-based nutritional recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The SNSF report,Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Improve Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Servicehighlights the ways the agency will support the Biden-Harris administration National Strategy (PDF, 776 KB), published in conjunction with the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in September 2022. To learn more about the FNS, visit www.fns.usda.gov and follow @USDANutrition.

Additional Resources

#

The USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

Comments are closed.