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USDA proposes changes to food programs for women, infants and children

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Bob Nichols/Office of Communications-Creativ
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Bob Nichols/USDA/Flickr Creative Commons

News brief: 

The Department of Agriculture is proposing changes to its supplemental food program for women, infants and children, otherwise known as WIC. WIC served about 6.2 million people per month in 2021, including 43 percent of the country’s infants. It provides food for pregnant women, recent mothers and children under five and offers information about government health care and social services.

Now, WIC could be getting an overhaul. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the proposed changes in mid-November.

“I think this is a good day for nutrition security. It's a good day for women, infants and children who are our future,” he said.

The updates will provide more nutritious foods, like canned fish, whole grains and dairy alternatives. Plus, WIC recipients will get three to four times the amount of fruits and vegetables, and breastfeeding mothers will receive more support.

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(Courtesy of the USDA)

“I think it is very consistent with the Biden-Harris administration's commitment to not only food security but also nutrition security,” Vilsack said.

The USDA is currently taking comments on its proposed changes via the feedback site Regulations.gov. They’ll need congressional approval before they go into effect. Several food industry representatives have supported modernization of the WIC program, arguing it also helps independent grocers.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Will Walkey is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. He first arrived in Wyoming in 2020, where he covered Teton County for KHOL 89.1 FM in Jackson. His work has aired on NPR and numerous member stations throughout the Rockies, and his story on elk feedgrounds in Western Wyoming won a regional Murrow award in 2021.
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