Health

Sep 28, 2009 12:53 PM by sleonard

WIC Introduces Program Changes in October

Wilmington, Del. - The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program will see some positive changes October first. For the first time, participants will be able to get fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.

The federal government has made revisions to the food voucher program for needy families that reflect updated U.S. dietary guidelines and to allow more flexibility in food choices. These changes are the first in nearly three decades to the state-run, federally-funded program.

The food voucher changes allow for the addition of fruits and vegetables for mothers and children ages one through five and for baby food fruits and vegetables for infants aged six to 12 months. "We're delighted that the food choices and amounts are being updated to better meet the nutritional needs of WIC participants," said Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., president and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation, the nonprofit entity behind the Fruits & Veggies-More Matters® national public health initiative. "WIC has always provided nutrition education and support to mothers and the addition of fruits and vegetables will complement these efforts by increasing their access to these nutritious foods."

Besides the addition of fruits and vegetables, WIC families can now also add whole grains, whole breads and tortillas, and canned beans. In the past, the WIC program was limited to milk, cheese, eggs, juice, cereals and dried beans or peanut butter. The program also reduced the voucher amounts of milk, cheese and eggs, and now stipulates that only one-percent or fat-free milk be allowed for women and children age two and older. These changes are more consistent with USDA dietary guidelines recommendations of limiting the consumption of saturated fats.

Pivonka adds, "Efforts to make these changes in the WIC program have been underway for years and the current shift is a testament to USDA and their dedication to basing the program on the most accurate and up-to-date nutrition science. Their recommendations now match their own dietary guidelines and our message of eating more fruits and vegetables for better health. This is going to expand the varieties of food WIC families use on a regular basis."

WIC is a federal program for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or recently pregnant, as well as infants and children up to age five. The Fruits & Veggies-More Matters website, www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org

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