The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced proposed changes to the foods issued to participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). WIC provides a monthly benefit for healthy foods, coupled with individualized nutrition services, that reach more 6.3 million pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children across the country.
The proposed changes—a key component in the White House’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health—would align food packages with the latest nutrition science. Specifically, as the National WIC Association notes, “the proposed rule would permanently increase the Cash Value Benefit to reflect 50% of DGA-recommended fruit and vegetable intake, add monthly issuance of seafood across food packages, increase cultural whole grain options, include new substitution patterns and expand package size flexibility to improve participant access to WIC foods, and provide flexibility to strengthen breastfeeding outcomes.”
“A healthy diet is key to promoting proper development, growth and overall health. The WIC program plays a vital role in providing nutritional support to pregnant, postpartum and nursing women, and infants and young children. The American Heart Association strongly supports USDA’s efforts to update the WIC food package to reflect current nutrition science and increase access to nutritious, culturally appropriate foods,” said Mark Schoeberl, Executive Vice President, Advocacy of the American Heart Association.
The American Heart Association is reviewing the rule and will share more information about its substance and our comment strategy soon. In the meantime, we were pleased to join the National WIC Association and other partners from across the public health community to praise its release. You can find the joint statement here.