CHN: USDA PROPOSES IMPROVEMENT TO WIC FOOD PACKAGE; Funds for Children’s Fruits and Vegetables Fall Short
On August 4, the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced proposed changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food packages. The revised regulations would significantly improve the current WIC packages by increasing participants’ choices and offering a wider variety of healthy foods. The proposed changes also make the WIC packages more in line with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the current infant feeding practice guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The last time the WIC food packages were revised was in 1980.
The USDA began the process of updating the WIC food packages back in 2003 when it commissioned the Institute of Medicine to review the packages. USDA asked the IOM to make cost-neutral recommendations. In 2005 the IOM issued a report that outlined ways to increase the nutritional value of the food packages. Although the recommendations were intended to be cost-neutral, the USDA concluded they were not, and cut back on the IOM’s proposal in its recently released proposed rule.
The USDA proposals incorporate many of the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations to improve the nutritional quality of the foods in the program. For the first time the proposal adds fruits and vegetables. But because the USDA insisted on maintaining cost neutrality, they cut the IOM’s recommendation for children’s fruits and vegetables from $8 to $6. (USDA includes $8 for adult women’s fruits and vegetables.) USDA also left out IOM’s suggestion to include yogurt as an option in the WIC packages. Other additions adopted by USDA include: canned fish choices, canned or dried legumes, and baby foods including meats for fully breast-fed infants. Foods from each food group are offered in the package and basic WIC food categories are retained such as milk, cheese, eggs, fruit juice, cereal, beans/peanut butter, and infant formula. Certain foods are de-emphasized or eliminated for some or all age groups – for example, infants will no longer be given fruit juice. The changes are also intended to provide participants greater choice and be more culturally sensitive, hence, the addition of soy milk, tofu and whole grains.
On August 7 the Federal Register published the USDA’s proposed rule Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): Revisions in the WIC Food Packages. To view the rule please go to: http://frwebgate1.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate.cgi?WAISdocID=975981352348+0+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve
The public may submit comments by any of the following methods:
- Mail: Send comments to Patricia N. Daniels, Director, Supplemental Food Programs and Division, Food and Nutrition Service, USDA, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 528, Alexandria, VA 22302
- Web site: Go to http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic . Follow the online instructions for submitting comments through the link at the Supplemental Food Programs Division web site.
- Email: Send comments to WICHQ-SFPD@fns.usda.gov. Include “Docket ID Number 0584-AD77, WIC Food Packages Rule,” in the subject line of the message.
To be considered comments should be submitted and postmarked by November 6.
For a preliminary summary of the new WIC food package visit the Food Research and Action Center site at: http://www.frac.org/html/news/newWICpack80406.html
To view the National WIC Association’s opinion of the new proposal go to: http://nwica.org/