The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing to change the WIC food package for the first time in over ten years. Some changes proposed include the following:
- keep the increased fruit and vegetable benefit,
- offer more options for whole grains,
- add seafood to children, pregnant and postpartum packages,
- and offer more substitutions for all food packages.
The new changes would also allow families to shop for different sizes for all food categories (except infant formula).
How could the food package change?
- The increased fruits and vegetables benefit that families are receiving would be permanent.
- Families could purchase fresh herbs such as cilantro or parsley with their fruit and vegetable benefit.
- Participants could choose less juice and more fruits and vegetable benefits.
- WIC stores would be required to have at least three different forms of vegetables.
- Seafood would be added to children over two, pregnant, and postpartum food packages.
- Canned legumes would be an added option.
- Eggs could be exchanged for legumes, peanut butter, or tofu.
- Cultural options, including quinoa, wild rice, teff, buckwheat, corn meal, triticale, millet, amaranth, kamut, sorghum, wheat berries, tortillas with folic acid-fortified corn masa flour, whole wheat pita, English muffins, bagels, and naan would be added.
- The amount whole grains pregnant and postpartum parents receive would increase.
- Stronger cereal standards that add more whole grains and limit added sugars.
- Families have more flexibility when shopping for yogurt, tofu, cheese, or milk benefits.
- Soy based yogurts and cheeses would be allowed.
- Parents could exchange half or all of their jarred infant fruits and vegetables for more fresh fruits and vegetables benefit.
- Infant cereal and jarred infant food amounts would be reduced to meet the current dietary guidelines.
- Formula could be issued in customized amounts to help support breastfeeding parents meet their goals.
When would changes to the WIC food package happen?
WIC food package changes would not happen immediately. The commenting period for USDA’s proposed WIC food package changes closed on February 21, 2023. The USDA will review all comments before making a final ruling. We could see changes to the WIC food package as soon as 2024.
Thank you to our WIC participants, staff, and community partners who submitted a comment in support of the WIC food package changes.