Good News from the U.S. Department of Agriculture

A healthy diet is key to promoting proper development, growth, and overall health. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) helps more than 6 million low-income pregnant and postpartum parents, infants and young children have access to nutritious food.

hero_image_alt_text===Woman and infant
thumbnail_alt_text===Woman and infant

When expectant parents have access to WIC, their families have better health outcomes; Infants and toddlers born to families enrolled in the program have fewer health problems and are better positioned to make healthy food choices in their life.

This month we got good news as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized updates to the WIC food package, which outlines eligible foods in the program.

The updated food package increases access to fruits, vegetables, whole grains and seafood, all of which provide nutrients to help young children develop and have a healthy future. This update also reduces the amount of added sugars by only allowing unflavored milk and setting an added sugars limit for yogurt and plant-based milk alternatives. Critically, this update increases the monthly cash-value voucher for fruits and vegetables, a significant change that will provide participants with approximately half of the recommended daily intake for this food group. The changes also provide new flexibility that allow participants to choose food and beverages that meet their individual dietary needs, and personal and cultural preferences.

Participation in the program has been shown to improve pregnancy and birth outcomes, reduce the risk of infant mortality, increase breastfeeding rates and cut the prevalence of childhood obesity, along with other positive results. WIC also can address disparities in nutrition security and maternal and child health outcomes for families with lower incomes and in communities of color. Studies also show that people learn what foods they enjoy as children, making WIC valuable in setting infants and toddlers on the path of healthy eating.

The update is a significant step to improve nutrition security and health equity.

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