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USDA calls for improved food options for low-income families

Article

New updates to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children would provide more nutritious options to low-income families.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has called for updates to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), according to the California WIC Association (CWA).

These updates would improve the quality of foods provided to low-income families, supporting their nutritional needs. One change would be the April 2021 fruit and vegetable benefit which would provide food which meets guidelines from the Dietary Guidelines of Americans.

There would also be a greater range of food packaging, allowing for more choices that don’t cut nutrients. According to Karen Farley, RDN, IBCLC, executive director of the CWA, these expansions from the USDA will provide families with healthier and more culturally appropriate foods.

Prior to the April 2021 increase, families would receive $9 per month in fruit and vegetable benefits for children and $11 per month for parents. If the benefit increase is codified, families could receive 3 to 4 times this amount. This would decrease risk of childhood obesity and encourage healthier eating patterns, based on results from past studies.

A nationwide poll in September 2021 showed that 76% of voters supported further federal investment for helping WIC families receive a more nutritious diet. The increase in nutrients is also supported by the National Academies of Sciences’ recommended fruit and vegetable intake.

Package size variety will allow foods such as whole-wheat bread and yogurts to be ingested, further increasing nutritious options. Retailers and manufacturers will also benefit from not needing “WIC-only” sizes for packaging, improving the shopping experience.

"Improvements to the WIC food package are a must for families. A third of all children in Fresno are in poverty, and families are struggling with inflation, transportation, and food access," said Annette Thornton, RD, WIC Program Director for the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission. "Not only is it necessary to increase the WIC benefit value, we also need more options in foods, package sizes, and online shopping to reduce barriers in feeding our children, especially in rural communities."

Reference

Great news for one million california infants, children and parents as USDA proposes new food options. Newswire. November 18, 2022. Accessed November 21, 2022. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/great-news-for-one-million-california-infants-children-and-parents-as-usda-proposes-new-food-options-301682435.html

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