Apr 29, 2024
New WIC guidelines codify white potatoes, among other updates

The International Fresh Produce Association joined a chorus of nutritional policy experts praising this month’s finalized updates to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

In addition to making the latest increase to the Cash Value Benefit (CVB) permanent, the update codifies that white potatoes are allowed.

The updates also allow participants to substitute their juice allotment for an additional $3 in CVB and to purchase fresh herbs as well as fresh-cut fruit and vegetable party trays without dressings and dips, IFPA noted in a news release.

The new guidelines, announced April 9 by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, also expanded whole grain options to include quinoa, blue cornmeal and teff to reflect dietary guidelines and accommodate individual or cultural preferences. More options were also provided within the dairy category, including flexibility on package sizes and non-dairy substitutions, and canned fish was included in more food packages.

Canned beans were also required to be offered in addition to dried, while flexibility was also added in the amount of infant formula provided to partially breastfed infants, according to USDA.

“These updates to WIC will be instrumental in improving nutrition security among some of our nation’s most vulnerable populations,” IFPA CEO Cathy Burns said in a news release. “IFPA members across the supply chain look forward to an implementation of the food package that will allow for continued access to nutritious foods, including the full variety of fresh fruits and vegetables available at retail.”

Cathy Burns

The changes align with recommendations from the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, according to USDA.

“IFPA has long advocated for the importance of a science-based approach in WIC,” Mollie Van Lieu, IFPA vice president for Nutrition and Health Policy, said in the release. “We already know that WIC works at addressing health outcomes, and the final food package will do even more to boost the general healthfulness of the WIC program and benefit the women and children it serves.”

Industry responses

Tim D. McGreevy, CEO, USA Pulses (American Pulse Association, USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, U.S. Pea and Lentil Trade Association): “The U.S. pulse industry extends our congratulations to USDA on publishing their final rule to revise the WIC food packages. We’re pleased to see the USDA continue to acknowledge the unique role of pulse crops (beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas) in providing key nutrients to women, infants, and children.”

Kevin Schalinske, president, American Society for Nutrition: “The American Society for Nutrition supports USDA’s efforts to better align the WIC food package with current nutrition science and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The WIC food package plays a fundamental role in improving public health for so many women, infants, and children.”

Peter Matz, director, Food & Health Policy, The Food Industry Association: “FMI – The Food Industry Association applauds USDA’s commitment to permanently increasing the monthly cash-value voucher/benefit (CVV/B) amounts for fruit and vegetable purchases in the WIC program to reflect 50% of the Dietary Guidelines’ recommended fruit and vegetable intake for mothers and children. We also appreciate USDA’s approval of new substitution patterns and package size flexibility, which will improve participant access to and utilization of WIC foods, and expect both rule changes will result in measurable benefits for mothers and young children.”


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