USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is proposing changes to the foods prescribed to participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). These science-based revisions incorporate recommendations from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. FNS is proposing changes to align the program’s food packages with the latest nutrition science and support equitable access to nutritious foods during critical life stages.
Taken collectively, the changes will increase the current level of assistance while providing WIC state agencies with more flexibility to tailor the packages to accommodate personal and cultural food preferences and special dietary needs and increase variety and choice for WIC participants, making the program more appealing for current and potential participants.
The proposed revisions support fruit and vegetable consumption by increasing the amount provided and the varieties available for purchase. During the pandemic, Congress implemented a significant but temporary boost to the benefit provided to WIC participants for purchasing fruits and vegetables. FNS proposes making that increase permanent, providing participants with up to four times the amount they would otherwise receive. The agency also proposes revisions that give participants a greater variety of fruits and veggies to choose from and adjust the quantity of juice to reflect nutrition guidance, which emphasizes whole fruits and vegetables.
Other proposed changes include:
- Expanding whole grain options to include foods like quinoa, blue cornmeal, and teff to reflect dietary guidance and accommodate individual or cultural preferences;
- Providing more non-dairy substitution options such as soy-based yogurts and cheeses, and requiring lactose-free milk to be offered;
- Including canned fish in more food packages, creating more equitable access to this under-consumed food;
- Requiring canned beans to be offered in addition to dried; and
- Adding more flexibility in the amount of formula provided to partially breastfed infants to support individual breastfeeding goals.
The comment period on the proposed changes will be open through February 21, 2023.