USDA Wants to Loosen WIC Rules

Nov. 18, 2022
Proposed expansion to list of eligible foods would give recipients more options.

The USDA is proposing changes to the list of foods eligible for purchase under the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food assistance program, hoping it bring it more into line with nutritional and other needs.

WIC is an add-on to the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps. Targeted toward women with young children, it is more restrictive than the larger SNAP program in terms of what foods can be bought with it.

The USDA announced Nov. 17 that it wants to expand the list of eligible food. Proposals include:

  • Increasing the allowance for fresh fruits and vegetables by three to four times their previous level. Congress has already done this on an interim basis; USDA wants to make the change permanent.
  • Expanding whole grain options to include foods like quinoa, blue cornmeal, and teff to reflect dietary guidance and accommodate individual or cultural preferences.
  • Including canned fish along with fresh or dried.
  • Including canned beans along with dried.
  • Adding “flexibility” in the amount of formula allocated for babies that are partially breast-fed.

“For the more than 6 million moms, babies and young children who participate in WIC – and the millions more eligible to participate – these proposed revisions have the potential to make positive, life-long impacts on health and well-being,” USDA deputy undersecretary Stacy Dean said in a statement.

USDA will collect comments on the proposed changes between Nov. 21 and Feb. 21.

About the Author

Pan Demetrakakes | Senior Editor

Pan has written about the food and beverage industry for more than 25 years. His areas of coverage have included formulations, processing, packaging, marketing and retailing. Pan worked for Food Processing Magazine for six years in the 1990s, where he was operations editor (his current role), touring dozens of food plants of every description. He has also worked for Packaging and Food & Beverage Packaging magazines, the latter as chief editor, during which he won three ASBPE awards. He is a graduate of Stanford University with a BA in communications.

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