USA – The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) recently lauded the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) overhaul of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), citing it as a crucial step towards enhancing access to nutrition and promoting health equity.

Speaking with Food Ingredients 1st Alex Ashbrook, WIC and Root Causes Director, FRAC, shares insights into the implications of these changes.

She underscores the significance of the revised WIC food package in bridging nutritional gaps for the approximately seven million pregnant women and young children enrolled in the program.

With a focus on improving access to nutritious foods, especially for marginalized communities, the changes aim to mitigate health disparities exacerbated by systemic inequities.

Ashbrook emphasizes the critical role of early nutrition and the importance of providing proper nutrition from infancy. By bolstering access to fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, the updated food package endeavors to fortify families’ health while fostering equity across communities.

Aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the enhancements to the WIC food packages aim to promote healthier dietary patterns by reducing sugar content and increasing the availability of whole grains. Ashbrook highlights the role of these dietary adjustments in mitigating obesity and other diet-related illnesses.

Ensuring program effectiveness

FRAC advocates for measures to ensure the effective implementation of the new WIC plan. This includes comprehensive vendor training, culturally appropriate education campaigns, and expanded access to authorized WIC stores, farmer’s markets, and online ordering options.

The updated WIC program aligns with the goals outlined in the Biden-Harris Administration National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. Leveraging federal nutrition programs like WIC, policymakers aim to promote healthy habits and support the well-being of vulnerable populations.

Ashbrook acknowledges the importance of continued support for families, particularly in light of the ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With full funding for WIC secured in the 2024 fiscal year appropriations package, there is optimism for sustained progress in promoting health and well-being.

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