USDA ISSUES INTERIM FINAL RULE REVISING THE WIC FOOD PACKAGES
WASHINGTON, Dec 5 - Acting Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conner today announced publication of an interim final rule revising food packages provided by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) for the first time in nearly three decades.
"We're pleased to announce today that the new food packages, based on the Dietary Guidelines, will include fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which are essential to a healthier diet," said Acting Secretary Chuck Conner. "The addition of these foods better reflect the needs of over 8 million low-income mothers and children in the WIC program. The new food packages are designed to improve the nutrition and health of our nation's low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants and young children with nutrition education, and more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to greatly improve dietary quality," added Conner.
The interim final rule, issued by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, will be published Dec 6 in the Federal Register. It largely follows recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies in the final report of its review of the WIC food packages, WIC Food Packages: Time for a Change, as well as the latest nutrition science and the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Under the interim final rule, the food packages are revised to add new foods including fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while amounts of some current foods are modified.
WIC provides low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age five with nutritious supplemental foods. The program also provides nutrition education and referrals to health and social services. More than eight million participants receive WIC benefits each month, with a federal investment of over $5 billion in FY 2006. WIC food packages were first designed in 1974 to supplement participants' diets with foods rich in five nutrients-vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and protein-because those nutrients were lacking in the diets of the WIC target population.