In November 2022, the USDA proposed science-backed changes to improve nutrition and promote and support breastfeeding in the food packages of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
USDA sought comments on its proposal through Feb. 21, 2023.
As of today, 15,238 people submitted comments on the proposed WIC food package update, including over 135 comments in English and Spanish from a comment campaign by Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio in partnership with UnidosUs!
Why are the Proposed WIC Changes Needed for Latinos?
Many Latinos face both food and nutrition insecurity.
Of Latino low-income households, 69.4% were food secure, 18.8% were food insecure, and 11.8% were very low food security, according to a USDA report.
“Many health professionals and policymakers think [food insecurity is] an inadequate term. Instead, they say, we should be focused on ‘nutrition security.’ That term emphasizes access, availability and affordability of foods that promote well-being and prevent or treat disease, not just foods that provide calories,” Cara Rosenbloom, a registered dietitian and the president of Words to Eat By, wrote in a Washington Post perspective.
What are the Proposed WIC Changes All About?
The proposed WIC food package changes include:
- Enhanced buying power for fruits, vegetables.
- Increased foods consumed less in adequacy, amount.
- More options for cultural eating patterns.
- Ability to get the quantity of formula to support any level of breastfeeding.
- Requiring all breakfast cereals to meet the whole grain-rich standards that already apply to school nutrition programs and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
These changes aim to improve the health of low-income Latino families, which make up one of the highest population groups in WIC participation rates.
“With over 6 million women, infants, and children participating in WIC – and millions more eligible to participate – any changes we can make to better support their health will result in meaningful, long-lasting impacts for children and families,” according to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
What Happens Now that the Comment Period is Over for the WIC Changes?
With the comment period closed, the proposed changes and comments from individuals will be considered before USDA reaches a final decision.
“Collectively, these changes not only align with the latest science to best support nutritional needs but are also designed to make the program more appealing to participants so that more women, infants, and children can tap into all the proven benefits of WIC,” according to the USDA.
What Can You Do Now to Boost Health Equity in Your Community?
Discover the state of health equity in your community!
Enter your count name and get your own Health Equity Report Card from Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio.
You will get local maps and data visualizations on food and nutrition, including:
- food access
- percentage of population with SNAP Benefits
- grocery store rate
Email your Health Equity Report Card to community leaders, share it on social media, and use it to make the case to address food and nutrition insecurity where help is needed most!
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