USDA Overhauls WIC Program, Prioritizing Healthier Food Choices 

United States – Nearly 7 million low-income women and children will be able to buy more vegetables and fruits. However, they won’t be able to buy as much dairy after the U.S. Department of Agriculture completely changed this program on Tuesday. 

Focus on Nutrition Science 

USDA said the modifications to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for the childrens and Women (WIC), the first since 2014, were strategies to make the program’s food package fit the latest dietary science, as reported by Reuters. 

“These participant-centered changes will strengthen WIC by ensuring the foods participants receive reflect the latest nutrition science to support healthy eating and the brightest futures,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. 

USDA Overhauls WIC Program, Prioritizing Healthier Food Choices. Credit | Pexels
USDA Overhauls WIC Program, Prioritizing Healthier Food Choices. Credit | Pexels

Enhanced Options 

WIC recipients obtain food benefits by buying certain foods determined by age and dietary conditions. In November 2022, the USDA published a change to the program, and as of January 2023, it had received about 17,000 comments in response. 

The budget plan also limits opportunities for greasy meals. The final provision offers higher allowances for fruits, vegetables, and seafood and decreases the amounts of juice, dairy, and cheese. Besides that, it expanded the non-dairy options; for example, plant-based and lactose-free milk are available. 

“The National WIC Association applauds USDA for adhering to an independent, science-based review process that led to these stronger standards, and we urge swift implementation,” said Georgia Machell, interim president and CEO of the group, in a statement. 

Criticism followed the changes that were met by dairy promotional organizations. 

“(The National Milk Producers Federation) is disturbed by the decision to reduce access to the essential nutrients dairy adds to the diet,” said Gregg Doud, president and CEO of the group, in a statement. 

Projected Growth and Budget Concerns 

USDA officials are sure that the agency will see the same USD 400 million growth in dairy purchases by WIC by 2025 due to the projected rise in participants and the fact that they don’t use the full volume of milk as provided before. 

Serving Millions 

The USDA manages WIC, and approximately six million pregnant, lactating, and postpartum women and their children up to five years of age are so served, as reported by Reuters. 

Congress discovered the WIC budget to be underfunded last year after the White House and dietary advocates voiced concern that millions of qualified family members might be turned away.